Put a Little Sugar in My Bowl: A fun honeybee project for anyone

Bees love a sweet snack!

Fun for everyone. Great family/school project.

  • Use a shallow dish, the saucer from a house plant is perfect. Add rocks or sticks to keep the bees from drowning.
  • Make a small jar of sugar water by filling the jar half full of White Cane Sugar. Only use White Cane Sugar, if it doesn’t say cane sugar it is beet sugar, anything else (except honey) is bad for the bees. Add warm water to fill the jar and stir till all sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Place your dish in a place that is easy for you to see like a balcony rail or planter box, but not near foot or pet traffic. Add sugar water till it is about a 1/4 inch deep.
  • Check back in 30 minutes. If bees are present, watch for a minute till you understand their flight path. As long as you do not get in the way it is safe to approach quite close. If someone flies past your head move further away. Be calm and so will the bees.
Sticks provide a place to stand.
Sticks provide a place to stand

Do not try to move or refill the dish while bees are present. You may have to wait till after dark. Do not do this for more than a couple of days at a time. Bees are better off with natural sources of nectar and pollen but this is a great way for you to learn more about these industrious linchpins of the natural world.

You may also attract other native pollinators. Don’t be quick to assume an unidentified species is aggressive like a yellowjacket or hornet. Take a photo if you can and try looking them up online. I recommend What’s That Bug.  Either way, don’t crowd them and they will not crowd you.

I find that ninety-nine percent of people can’t tell the difference between honeybees, other nonaggressive native pollinators, and more aggressive stinging insects. This simple project is an easy way to learn more about your local good guys!

If you will watch closely you will see that bees that are leaving will circle for a moment and then make a beeline for their hive. You can use this to see how many hives are within a mile or two. You might be surprised by the number.

River rocks work too
River rocks work too

I realize that it may be a bit late for those in northern latitudes, but don’t assume it is too cold. We had our first real frost this morning here in Charlotte and were able to bring in up to 20 honeybees at a time this afternoon. The small size of the honeybees attracted indicates they are from hives without foundation or feral bees proving once again the backwards beekeeping is the only way to go if you want strong healthy hives.


2 Comments on “Put a Little Sugar in My Bowl: A fun honeybee project for anyone

  1. Would be great for the grandkids at the cabin (or their cabin for that matter). Will be trying it.

    • I am glad you enjoyed the post, thank you for your comment. I hope you have fun trying it with the grandkids!
      Kevin and Natalie

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