Honey bees around drain / sink outlet pipe each day.

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Anonymous (not verified)
Honey bees around drain / sink outlet pipe each day.

For a number of weeks we have had a steady flow of honey bees around the drain / kitchen sink outlet pipe...never more than two or three at any one time.

Today we had a two hour period in the afternoon when there were regularly between 50 and 100 at one time!

Does anyone know what they are doing there each day and why the numbers suddenly increased so dramatically for 2 hours?

We had always assumed that they were drinking...but so many bees at one time?

Many thanks in advance for any info.

A FEW MORE DETAILS:

They are definitely NOT going up the pipe in any big way at all....just occasionally one disappears inside for a second or two, but they mainly stay outside.

They DO land on the pipe itself and seem to hang around the lip more than anywhere else.

They also land in the drain itself - mainly around the edges rather than on the grill, but just occasionally a few will crawl below the grill for a short period.

PHOTOS and SHORT FILMS here if anyone wants to have a closer look:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/98ox29vc2enui8e/Bees%20%26%20Downpipe.zip

Nigel Jones
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Last seen: 3 hours 1 min ago
Joined: 11/11/2011 - 20:07
I think they must be

I think they must be collecting water. I guess that in this hot weather, supplies of water are at a premium, so they start to use situations they would not normally need to use.

ChamMusic (not verified)
Thanks

Many thanks for the reply Nigel...collecting water was my only idea and your comment about the hot weather makes sense...

Sad thing is we are accidentally killing a few each day - simply by using the kitchen tap...some of the bees unfortunately get caught in the flow!

Curiously, they seem to ignore nearby water supplies such as the regularly filled bird bath and the clean pond + they've also refused the small shallow dishes of water I've placed near the drain to try and tempt them towards something safer!

Will Messenger (not verified)
Honey bees at drain

May I add some more? Yes the hbs are seeking water. There are two factors that are bringing them to the drain. Firstly, scouts will have marked the source and directed other workers to it; once the colony has 'decided' on this source, it will ignore others. To us "scent-less' humans this can appear perverse. Secondly, honeybees will also need minerals in their diet and they do seem to have a preference for certain water sources over others. I was once asked to place an apiary inside a sewage treatment works; the bees loved the (treated!) effluent, but I did not announce the provenance of the honey on my honey jars! Again, what appears to us as clean water, may not suit the bees.

The sudden influx of large numbers of bees can be explained by several things. I once moved colonies to a new apiary on the Cotswold plateau where there were no streams - and during a drought. The following day a householder down the hill complained about bees swarming in his garden. This turned out to be numerous workers exploiting the outflow from an artificial pond, using the moss on the carefully placed stones as a perfect substrate. It could be that a beekeeper had moved hives into the area and a new colony then located your drain.

The solution? Remember that a honey bee queen can lay 1000 eggs a day and each worker lives as an adult for maybe six weeks. Thus there will be substantial losses to the hive every day. Unlike fragile bumble bee nests with relatively few workers, or solitary bees dependent on the survival of one female, honey bees can adjust for significant mortality. If possible, you might be able to construct a screen to exclude the bees from the drain. I would use black epoxy mesh or green plastic insect screening (garden centres or agricultural supplies) plus upholstery-type foam and duct tape, although some builders' merchants sell drain covers that might work. Once the bees are excluded they will locate an alternative source of water. A quite interesting mark-and-recapture exercise could be set up to establish whether the bees relocated to the bird bath or wherever.

Beekeepers often overlook their bees' need for water. One very effective solution on one of my sites is to plumb a stock drinker into the cattle trough water supply. Large pebbles prevent bees drowning and the water can be flushed to minimise disease transfer. This gives the bees an alternative to the stormy waters in the cattle troughs when the stock drink - but they still fly several hundred yards to an ornamental pond!

Nigel Jones
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Last seen: 3 hours 1 min ago
Joined: 11/11/2011 - 20:07
Thanks

Will, thanks for that excellent explanation - very interesting stuff.

 

Nigel

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