Watering hole for bees

Despite having seven lakes in and around Bhopal, we are facing a water crisis this year. Last year the monsoon was not up to the mark and as a results our sources of fresh water have dried up. And if the rains are screwed up this year as well, this crisis is going to escalate drastically. Not just for the people living here but for all the plants and animals as well. The effects of this draught can already be felt as sources of fresh water seem to have dried up for many of the smaller wild animals.

Bhopal is generally a green city, lots of trees and vegetation all around and its always been a haven for many smaller wild animals. But these days it does not seem like a good time for small animals to be here. Nearly every day I see several dehydrated squirrels lying dead on our morning walk route. Either they died for lack of water to drink or in desperation they may have tried to drink polluted sewage water. The same is true for many birds. You can see far more dead sparrows lying under trees than is normal. I suppose the extreme temperature could also be responsible for their deaths but since they usually live in trees and the heat is fairly tolerable in the shade of these trees, I don’t think that temperature alone can be held responsible.

Very few mosquitoes this year as well. Normally, at this time of the year I dread stepping outside in the evenings because of the swarm of mosquitoes waiting to suck my blood. This year there are hardly any. The occasional buzzing is generally just a half hearted attempt to get my attention and their bite is even more rare. Its probably because their sources of open water for breeding have all dried up. I guess that can be the silver lining in this disaster.

This is also the first time when bees are actually making a bee-line (pun intended) for our fish tank outside. Every morning by the time the sun comes up there are more than fifty bees drinking water from the fish tank and its like a chain. Some take off after drinking and some others come and take their place. All of them seem to be making trips back and forth between the fish tank and their hive, wherever that may be. This goes on the whole day, right through the blistering afternoon till the time it gets dark in the evenings.

beesAnd these bees seem to be docile. They have not stung anyone. And if someone does walk around them (the path to our gate from the main door of our house crosses the bees path of getting water and returning) they just seem to fly around them. When I go to feed the fish, they casually huddle to the other side of the tank without bothering and return to their original places when I leave the tank. Clever and hard working creatures. The whole day they keep sloughing and carrying their quarter drop of water. I guess carrying even a quarter drop of water all day by hundreds of dedicated workers will lead to a sizable collection by the end of the day. I have not yet located their hive but I am sure its pretty close since carrying water over any sizable distance in this heat would be futile, the bees may end up drinking whatever they are carrying by the time they got to the hive.

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