Do Bees Need Water in Winter?

We're bee-lovers here! Learn how to help thirsty bees in winter so pollinators make it through to spring.

In spring and summer, we find our gardens filled with gorgeous perennials and even pretty vegetables. But we wouldn’t have all those lovely gardens without our bee friends. That’s why gardeners often look for ways to save the bees.

We know the cold weather is rough for a bee colony, since trees and flowers hibernate in fall and winter, and many natural sources of water vanish. Inspired by a viral Facebook post, you might see some neighbors put small bowls with grated apple outside.

What Is That Dish?

grated apples and water in a small white dish on an outdoor table for feeding bees in winterMae Lander/Taste of Home

The bowls may be full of apples and water. To create a bee watering station in winter, some people grate an apple into a little bowl and cover with water. The grated apple is rumored to provide the sugar bees need while also serving as a platform for them to stand on as they drink the water. However, beekeepers recommend against this method.

How to Help Bees in Winter

Instead of leaving out shredded apples and water, honey or sugar water, here’s one small thing you can do.

Fill a birdbath or shallow container with fresh water. Then add stones, moss or marbles so the bees have something to land on. Just keep an eye on the water source and melt or refill when it’s frozen. You may also want to wash the container out every now and then to keep the water clean. This is such a simple gesture that can help our pollinators!

Keep an eye on this water source on warmer days in winter. You may see bees fly out of the hive in search of something to drink.

Melany Love
Melany has been writing food news for Taste of Home for four years. Her knowledge of current culinary trends comes from her extensive time spent on FoodTok and scouring Instagram for any unusual food, charcuterie design or coffee shop creation. Apart from freelancing, she has worked at bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Half Price Books and as a barista. She has always wanted a career in writing, and got her start at Taste of Home. When she’s not working, Melany is playing the latest video game, curled up with a book or spending time with her cats.