From GM: My father made his money with chicken eggs and as such he had automatic poultry waterers. Reading your article it seems to me they would be good for bee waterers as they basically need no attention to the keep water available to the bees. His were about a 6′ trough with a float controlled inlet from a pressure (home well) water source. They come in different sizes. Here is one source http://www.qcsupply.com/275005-biddie-drinker-with-hose.html
The only problem I can see is getting the right size for the needs of the hives. I would put sand up to the level of the water. Sand has more pore space thus more water surface than gravel,( check with the civil engineering department at the college), and no chance for drowning. These waterers would have the same need to be raised above predator available level and covered with 1/2″ hardware cloth to keep out the birds.
Today, as I prepared to get the lawn mower out, I noticed a significant number of water foragers around a rain puddle in front of my tractor barn. I changed my plans and posted the water foraging activity at: Honey Bee Water Foragers. It was bee biology in motion. I’ll mow later.
NWOBA, thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk to your group last evening. The room was full of mostly new beekeepers with a few old folks mixed in for good measure. I wish I had more good answers for the group and I hope our bees have the best season ever. (It’s just the normal beekeeper dream.)
VSBA, thanks for a wonderful, wonderful event at your Spring, 2012 meeting in Richmond, VA. (For those who don’t know, just a few days before the event, the meeting site had to be completely changed.) Everything worked well on essentially no notice. Great meeting site, great crowd, and good spirits. What an outstanding bunch of beekeepers!
To date, I am in the minority. For most of you, Maple is an obvious, viable source of early spring pollen. I certainly don’t doubt your observations. On my 4 medium-sized Maples, with binoculars, for about 5 observations on 4 different days, I could see may be 10-15 bees per observation. No clouds of bees. No hum of bees. Just the occasional forager. Certainly, these casual observations are not science. There are far too many variables not considered. In Ohio, beekeepers have the same issue with soybeans. Rarely, rarely a surplus honey crop from soybean – yet in other states, beekeepers routinely get major crops. I will be watching my maples again next year.