An overnight rain filled the exposed flower pots with water. The next day this flooded planter was visited by great numbers of honey bees. At this time of the year, many people find honey bees in locations that they don’t expect to find them. These bees appeared to be collecting water. Honey bees bring a large amount of water into the hive. In the summer, water is used to cool the hive. In the early spring the bees are using water to dilute stored honey. The colonies are expanding rapidly and are consuming large amounts of food. At this time there is not a great abundance of nectar available for the bees to forage. To make up for the shortage of nectar, the bees consume honey stores left over from the winter. To consume the honey, made up of concentrated sugars, the bees bring in water to dilute the honey. The adult bees derive energy from the honey. They mix the honey with pollen to make “bee bread” to feed to the developing brood.
Other honey bees may be found in bird feeders, collecting dust from the millet seeds. The dust has the texture and appearance of pollen. It is one of several similar substances brought back to the bee hive by pollen-foraging bees. They are unaware that the dust has far less nutritional value than the pollen they seek. If there is a diversity of plants available, the bees bring in pollen from many different ones. This helps ensure good nutrition for the bees. Often we’re surprised at the places we find honey bees.