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Old 07-22-2012, 03:10 PM   #1
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Default Why do wasps love water & bees don't?

I thought my heading might attract some attention.

I observe that wasps are frequent visitors to the birdbaths in my yard. Why do I never observe bees drinking water? Is it that bees get their needs met from flower nectar, even on a hot summers day? Or is the answer more complicated than that?
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Old 07-22-2012, 03:21 PM   #2
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Yup, you got my attention.

I know that the first time I put in a water garden (long before the one I'm putting in here), the first visitor I remember was a wasp. I've seen wasps at water often...and until just this week, I'd have agreed that I don't remember seeing bees drinking.

However, I witnessed a honey bee coming to the water's edge on a very shallow, half-submerged rock. I've seen other insects drink this way before, however, --spoiler alert-- this doesn't end well for the bee.

There was a frog about a foot away from the bee that began to stalk him...crawling on his belly to move in closer--with me witnessing how the entire scene played out (I was sitting at the ponds edge about a foot or so away). The bee seemed almost as big as this small frogs mouth. I was kind of surprised how he was stalking it--I expected it to be interested in smaller insects at its current size...and I'd have thought it would just shoot its tongue shoot out.

It all happened so fast, he seemed to pounce on the bee (and likely caught it with his tongue at the same time). As soon as it was in his mouth, he dove under the water...only to resurface a short time later, even closer to me...with what almost seemed like a proud look on his face.

The whole thing reminded me of a small scale version of the old Wild Kingdom show. The bee was at a "watering hole" while a predator lurked just out of sight. Like a gazelle and a lion...just smaller.
So, apparently bees do drink water--at least this one did.
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Last edited by dapjwy; 07-22-2012 at 03:25 PM. Reason: clarifying
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Old 07-22-2012, 04:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dapjwy View Post
Yup, you got my attention.

I know that the first time I put in a water garden (long before the one I'm putting in here), the first visitor I remember was a wasp. I've seen wasps at water often...and until just this week, I'd have agreed that I don't remember seeing bees drinking.

However, I witnessed a honey bee coming to the water's edge on a very shallow, half-submerged rock. I've seen other insects drink this way before, however, --spoiler alert-- this doesn't end well for the bee.

There was a frog about a foot away from the bee that began to stalk him...crawling on his belly to move in closer--with me witnessing how the entire scene played out (I was sitting at the ponds edge about a foot or so away). The bee seemed almost as big as this small frogs mouth. I was kind of surprised how he was stalking it--I expected it to be interested in smaller insects at its current size...and I'd have thought it would just shoot its tongue shoot out.

It all happened so fast, he seemed to pounce on the bee (and likely caught it with his tongue at the same time). As soon as it was in his mouth, he dove under the water...only to resurface a short time later, even closer to me...with what almost seemed like a proud look on his face.

The whole thing reminded me of a small scale version of the old Wild Kingdom show. The bee was at a "watering hole" while a predator lurked just out of sight. Like a gazelle and a lion...just smaller.
So, apparently bees do drink water--at least this one did.
LOL ... maybe that's why more bees don't drink water! That's a very interesting story, I could see it all in my mind's eye as I was reading. I suppose the bee didn't have time to sting the frog? Caught by surprise.

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 07-22-2012, 05:51 PM   #4
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LOL ... maybe that's why more bees don't drink water! That's a very interesting story, I could see it all in my mind's eye as I was reading. I suppose the bee didn't have time to sting the frog? Caught by surprise.

Thanks for sharing!
Or maybe why you never see them...maybe they became lunch just before you arrived to look.

I found the experience amazing and interesting...even though I don't like to see things die, I know it is part of nature...and without a source of food the frog would die as well...and not as quick a death as the bee. What was most amazing was that I witnessed it literally right before my eyes. The frog knew I was there and watching, and still acted completely naturally, seemingly seeing me as no threat. Often I have the camera (which is also a camcorder) with me, so it might have been possible to capture it on video had I had it at that time, but I'm fine with just having witnessed it and recorded the experience in words.
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Old 07-23-2012, 09:30 AM   #5
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I've observed both bees and wasps drinking water from containers - including our stock tank! - on our property, but the wasps appear to be better at it. Have seen quite a few drowned bees, but seldom a wasp in that situation...
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Old 07-30-2012, 07:30 PM   #6
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I agree with suunto on that one. I had a swimming pool in California, and frequently had drowning or drowned bees but never a drowned wasp. I don't remember drowned bumbles though, just drowned honey bees. More stupid, or thirstier?

I have friends with a honey bee hive, and they were told to set up a water source for the bees or the bees would go elsewhere. They set up a bucket that they keep brimming full, and the bees make a "bee line" to it constantly getting water.

Wasps come to the edges of water sources for mud as well as water. They also seem more agile than bees in general.
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Old 07-30-2012, 11:01 PM   #7
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Interestingly, I never have seen bees at water in my yard. Yet every day when I'm out watering lettuce, or something else in the garden, the wasps are attracted to the water and they come to the lettuce and crawl around to find the puddles. I enjoy watching them come, it's clear they are thirsty! I also see them on a daily basis visiting the cement birdbath for a drink. I just thought it odd that I've never seen any bees doing the same.
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Old 07-31-2012, 10:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turttle View Post
I had a swimming pool in California, and frequently had drowning or drowned bees but never a drowned wasp... just drowned honey bees. More stupid, or thirstier?
I think you answered your own question:

Quote:
Originally Posted by turttle View Post
Wasps...also seem more agile than bees in general.
Then again, it might be smart to avoid deep water if you are not very agile.
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