Make a DIY bee bath with your little ones (or on your own!) – a simple and pollinator-friendly summer activity you can quickly and easily throw together from supplies gathered right in your own backyard.
Over here in the Twin Cities, we had a rare 90-degree sunny spring day this week and the bees practically EXPLODED out of the ground (along with every other bug, bunches of bright green grass, and lots of happy flowers).
The gardens are *literally* buzzing with ground-nesting bees, so it’s time to get the bee baths out again for our thirsty pollinator friends.
Tap play to watch a quick mini-video of our spring bee bath environment.
Just like people, bees need water for hydration, but they also use it to beat the heat. Like little spritzer fans, their wings carry water back to the hive and as they flap their wings, water evaporates and cools the air.
This is always a fantastically fun (and uncomplicated) activity for kids, so I thought I’d share 5 ideas for themed, but simple DIY bee baths you can make with your little bee enthusiasts this spring or summer.
For kids who aren’t huge fans of being buzzed by bees, it will be reassuring for them to learn that bees are extremely loyal to familiar water sources. This means if you set up your bee bath early in the summer, they’ll keep going back to it rather than looking for water near the sources you’re playing in. It also gives kids an opportunity to observe bees from afar, get used to having them around, and maybe even develop a deeper connection with these amazingly cool diminutive drones.
For more ideas that will get little ones excited to get outside while it’s warm, make a bird’s nest helper, or visit our big collection of over 50 gardening activities for kids.
To make your own bee baths you’ll need:
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- A glazed clay saucer or shallow dish
- Pebbles or rocks
- A cup or two of fresh water
- A pinch of table salt
- Twigs, bark, pinecones, acorns, or moss
- Sand, shells, and/or driftwood
- Smooth sea glass
- Glass gems, marbles, or tumbled gemstones
- Corks or cut sponge pieces
- Fresh flowers
- Small cement garden decorations or similar
Hey pet owners, if you think your furry friends might be a little *too* curious about your bee baths, be sure to raise your baths up off the ground. You can set them on a plant stand or birdbath pedestal, secure them on a fence railing, or even hang them from a tree branch.
How to Make a Basic Bee Bath – DIY Instructions:
Create a welcoming oasis for thirsty bees by following these easy step-by-step instructions to craft a simple bee bath for your garden or outdoor space.
Layout your bee bath supplies
Gather the few simple supplies you need for this (a trip outside for a bee bath material scavenger hunt is a great way to kick off an afternoon of bee-based play). Layout all the supplies on a flat surface (the ground works great!) and invite your kids to start building.
*A note about your saucer or dish choice: I specify a glazed saucer because unglazed clay saucers are porous and tend to suck every last drop of water up throughout the day. A glazed saucer will keep you from having to refill your bee bath constantly, and is especially important for steamy summer days when water evaporates anyway. *
Build your bee bath
Fill your saucer with any combination of the supplies listed above, ensuring there are many good spots for bees to safely land and hang out while they dip their toes in the drink.
Like humans, bees appreciate fresh water (straight from the hose or tap is fine). Pour a shallow layer of water into your bee bath – you don’t want everything completely submerged.
Put your bee bath in a sunny spot
When finished, place your bee bath in a nice sunny spot. As you can see from the little video above, ours sits flat on a tree stump, surrounded by flowers and other vegetation that will help draw the bees.
Splish, splash, the bees are ready for baths! I’m stoked for the bumbles to find our little pollinator watering hole, and it makes an excellent mini-sized water feature addition to our backyard. It also creates a fun garden check-in spot for kids to explore and observe all season.
Five DIY Bee Bath Themes to Try With Your Kids
Kids love a theme, and you can make this activity extra entertaining by brainstorming design concepts with your children before bee bath-building time. Here are a few simple ideas to get you started…
1. MAKE A BEACH-THEMED BEE BATH.
Use sand, sea glass, shells, driftwood, and stones to create a beach-y ocean oasis for bees.
2. BUILD A WOODLAND STREAM BEE WATER STATION.
Like a little fairy garden, you can add dirt, twigs, river rocks, bark, moss, and small plants to create a dreamy woodland stream your bees will love hanging out in.
3. ARRANGE A RAINBOW BEE BATH.
Get your patterns on with colorful arrangements of marbles or sea glass.
4. A BEE WATERPARK.
Bee chutes and ladders! Make little bee ladders out of twigs or popsicle sticks, and ”waterslides” using curved pieces of bark. Pop in some bobbing corks for tiny bee pool floats.
5. A SPRING MEADOW MINI MARSH.
Make your own little marsh meadow by putting down a thin layer of dirt, a few rocks, fresh blooms, cut leaves, and flower petals. I had some grass clumps I had pulled from the garden that I put at each side. Add water, pop in some dandelions and/or other cuttings from the garden, then sprinkle some bright flower petals on top. This is a full-service stop for the bees – water with a side of fresh nectar! The foliage will wilt and have to be replaced, but our yard is growing little volunteers to toss in all summer long.
Tips to Help Bees Find Your Bee Bath
You can make sure your bee watering station assembly work pays off by taking just a few easy extra steps…
- Incorporate blues and purples. Of all the colors, bees seem to like shades of blues and purples the best. Add a few blueish rocks, pretty violet flowers, or deep indigo glass gems to draw the bees to your bath.
- Add salt to your bee bath. Turns out, bees love a little salt – who knew!? When first setting out your bee bath, add just a pinch to your water to help attract some fuzzy buzzy bee pals (and maybe even a few butterflies too).
- Refill the water in your bee bath regularly. The work of a dedicated bee bath-maker is never done! If your bee bath runs dry for a few days, those bees have no problem moving on to greener pastures, so make it a part of your kiddo’s daily routine – it only takes a minute, and is a lovely way for little ones to observe (from a safe distance) what’s happening in the gardens throughout the summer months into fall. *It’s important to note the times throughout the day when there aren’t bees at the bath – this is the time to refill. No need to upset the bees, after all!
For easy listening while bee bath-making, fire up our kid-friendly “Secret Garden” playlist on Spotify!
*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Blick Art Materials, Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!