A New Use for Old Tennis Balls

Beekeepers are always looking for new ways to provide water to their bees without drowning them. I’m always amazed at  how easily the little ladies drown–it’s not like drinking is a new thing for them. But drown they do, and in just about any depth of water.

Here at Ames Hollow Farm, we have a large, white, cement in-ground swimming pool with sloping sides. It’s a natural water-hole for the bees, so long as no small waves come and sweep the bees from the edge. As a girl, I remember saving lots of drowning bees and even some butterflies from that pool. But not every beekeeper has a nice pond or pool to keep their ladies in water.

Some people run small bubbling water features with lots of pebbles. Others put floating materials (sticks, slats of balsa wood, even packing peanuts!) in a shallow dish. But here, at last, is a simple but ingenious use for the thousands of tennis balls that my dogs deposit all over the farm!

Recipe for waterer or liquid feeder:

1. A big, flat pan

2. Enough tennis balls to fully line the pan

3. Liquid (water or liquid feed) to fill the pan

Put the tennis balls in the pan. Dump the liquid all over the tennis balls. If they don’t get soaked, then rotate them so the wet side is up.

Be sure to fill the pan with water or liquid each day. If you’re feeding sugar-water, remember that the water evaporates, leaving a really heavy syrup on the balls. Visit daily to replenish the water and help any bees that might get over-sugared!

I’m guessing it will also be helpful to wash the tennis balls every once in a while–hot water.


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