Build your own bee drinking trough from different materials – bee-friendly garden decorations to make yourself

More and more garden owners are trying to create a bee-friendly balcony or garden by planting flowers that attract and provide them with sufficient food. This is of course really helpful in combating bee deaths. But it’s not the only thing you can do. You could also build a bee trough yourself and you don’t have to be a master craftsman to do this. With really simple items and resources, you will get them in no time. The project is also very interesting for the children. As you work, do handicrafts and build together, you can explain the importance of bees and other pollinating insects to them and train tolerance towards nature.

Build your own bee trough – bees drink water?

Build bee troughs yourself - ideas to make yourself

The answer is actually obvious, otherwise we would hardly recommend a drinker for bees to you. The question should rather be whether the insects only drink water or prefer or need other ingredients such as sugar. Some people decide to use sugar or honey water after they build a bee trough because the insects like it particularly well. What is well-intentioned is anything but beneficial: honey, for example, can contain bacteria or spores that the bees infect and then transmit to others.

Build your own bee drinking trough - ideas for a bee-friendly garden or balcony

With sugar, this risk does not exist, but there is a different one: other bee colonies then try to “rob” the affected bee colony. Here, too, one people could become infected with the other, potentially sick people. Since you want to counteract the death of bees with the drinker, this is not a good idea. So choose simple water when you build your own bee trough! It is best to use it from a lake, stream or pond or from the rain barrel. If this is not available to you, take tap water, but leave it to stand for a few days first. It is also important that the water in the drinking trough is not too cold. By the way, pool water is also suitable.

And what do the bees need the water for??

Build bee trough yourself - what is an insect trough and what is it for

For one thing, the bees naturally drink water themselves. They need that for digestion. While there is sufficient dew to be found in spring, which they use for this purpose, moisture is more difficult to find in summer. The bees can save themselves the long search by building their own bee trough. This also prevents the bees from drowning in the deep pond or pool water, because you build an insect drinker in such a way that the water is extremely shallow. Bees also use the water to water their brood.

What is a bee trough anyway??

Expanded clay, wooden board and mini ponds make for bees in spring and summer

And what does a bee trough look like? You can build a bee trough yourself by using a wide variety of containers. It is only important that these are as flat as possible or filled with objects for landing. These objects (stones, marbles, sticks, etc.) also protect the bees from drowning. You can embellish the potions in various ways, for example by using plants. The result is, in principle, an attractive mini pond that is not only useful but also decorative. We explain below which plants are suitable for bee watering.

Build your own bee drinking trough

Build your own bee drinking trough with glass stones and gravel

As already mentioned, a flat container forms the basis. This can be a bowl, a tray or the plate of a clay pot. If you want, you can even make a container yourself out of quick-drying concrete and then paint it as you like. We’ll show you a few ideas for copying below:

You can easily build a bee trough yourself from a simple clay pot. You can paint whatever you want on the pot and plate in advance, best of all using spray paint. Once the paint has dried, place the pot upside down in the desired location. Fill the plate with one of the ideas below and place it on the pot. If you want a more stable construction, you can also fix the plate permanently to the pot with hot glue. It’s also a popular option for bird baths.

Build water troughs for bees with marbles and glass stones

Build your own bee drinking troughs with marbles in a plate of a clay pot

Marbles or glass stones, which are also used for aquariums, look particularly pretty in the bee trough. Simply distribute this in the bowl and then fill it with a little water. It really doesn’t have to be a lot of water if you build your own bee trough. It is important that you make sure that the marbles and stones protrude sufficiently from the water so that the bees can land and linger.

Build your own bee drinking trough with real stones

Supplying the bees with water against the death of bees with clay plates and piles of gravel

Pebbles or smaller river stones are ideal. They also have a rough surface, which makes it easier for the insects to hold on to. If the natural look is a little too boring for you, you can also paint the stones. That would be a great idea, for example, if you and the children build a bee trough yourself. With them you can then first prepare the stones and then use them to design the potions.

We also like this idea very much, in which small piles were built out of stones on which the bees can then land. If you use a large clay plate, there is even enough space for a potted plant or flower.


Idea with stones and sticks in a metal bowl for the garden

Sticks are very beneficial and can be combined with stones. They can swim freely in the water, be placed over stones or protrude over the edges of the bowl. In principle, you can play with their composition however you like until you are satisfied with the appearance of your potions. Even children can make an insect drinker themselves.

Use wine corks

Build your own bee drinking trough with a cork in the water

Corks behave similarly to sticks or small pieces of driftwood. They swim on the surface of the water and are great opportunities to land, hold on, and drink. But just because this material floats in the water does not mean that you can or should fill the container completely. Here, too, the water doesn’t need to be so deep to prevent the bees from drowning.

Build your own bee drinking trough with expanded clay

Build your own bee drinking trough with expanded clay, stones, moss, pine cones

The expanded clay behaves like sticks and corks. It swims on the surface of the water, which creates a suitable landing area. The expanded clay is also pretty to look at, especially when you combine it with other natural materials. Of course, the bowl can also only be filled with expanded clay if you like it better.

A small beach of bees

Cool beach for bees to drink with sand and stones

Use sand to create a landing spot for the bees. This can fill the entire bowl, whereby it should be higher on one side and deeper on the other, so that the bowl can be filled with a little water. Just like on a beach! Another possibility would be to combine sand and fine gravel and separate them with stones.

If you build the bee trough yourself, you can get really creative. However, we recommend that you use natural materials as much as possible.

Make your own bee watering with mussels

Mussels and sea snails in a blue shell as landing areas for bees

You probably already know that the seashells from your vacation can be used for a lot of handicraft projects. And even if you don’t have any marbles available for the bee watering, these natural materials prove to be a wonderful variant. If you want to build the bee trough yourself with mussels, you can use it like any other material: Spread it in the bowl and fill it up with water. Or how about spreading sand first, pouring some mussels on top and then pouring the water? Holiday flair is guaranteed!

Build your own bee drinker from bottle caps and popsicle sticks as a project for children

Make an insect trough yourself with children with popsicle sticks and bottle caps

Don’t you find this bee bar also totally sympathetic? We think your children will have a lot of fun making such an interesting construction out of popsicle sticks and bottle caps. All you need is lots of popsicle sticks and lids that you can glue together with hot glue. Then simply glue or nail the finished bee bar to a board that you can stick in the middle of the flower bed. You can fill the lids almost to the brim with water so that the insects can drink water without having to lean forward too much.

Bee trough – building instructions for an arrangement with flowers

Creative idea for the terrace - plant tubs and provide them with small drinking troughs

Take a large flower pot or bucket, place a suitable container in the middle for the drinking trough and fill the area between the two containers with potting soil. You can plant flowers there, preferably of course those that attract bees. Alternatively, you can fill the large pot completely with soil, leave enough free space in the middle when planting and then simply set up the small one. You can then build the desired bee trough yourself in the small container. In this way, a whole plant pyramid can be built.

Place the finished bee trough where?

Build your own bee drinking trough with natural materials - moss, stones, sticks

Building a bee trough yourself is one thing – but where should it go afterwards? Near a flower bed where the insects gather their food would be ideal. So our winged friends have their water close by. However, you should prefer a location that is sunny, but not in the blazing sun. A place with morning or evening sun, partial shade under a tree or partially protected from the sun by tall grass or bushes is therefore well suited. Furthermore, the insect trough should be protected from the wind.

If you build a bee trough yourself in spring and set it up early, the bees (and other insects such as butterflies) will quickly get used to it and use it regularly. You should therefore not change the location later and ensure that fresh water is always available.

Which plants for bee watering?

Use deep plates and river stones for insect watering

Which flowers and plants you can buy for the bee trough depends of course on various things – on the one hand on whether the plants should be outside the trough or inside, i.e. in the water. In addition, there is the later location, because some flowers can withstand the sun, others less. Before you build the bee trough yourself, think about where you want it to be later. Accordingly, you can choose any flowers you like for a border planting, which are also otherwise suitable for pot planting. The best would be of course bee-friendly varieties that will also attract the insects and supply them with nectar.

Handicrafts with natural materials for the garden - fill plates with moss and water

If you are building a kind of mini pond in a shallow tub as a bee trough yourself, aquatic plants are also suitable for planting. Among others, the following are suitable:

  • Mini papyrus
  • European sea can
  • hardy Indian flower tube
  • Duckweed
  • Fat leaves

For this purpose, it is best to seek advice from the garden center.


Build your own bee drinking trough from natural stone and sand and with painted stones as decoration

So you want to build an insect drinker, but keep in mind that it also requires a certain amount of care. Otherwise, especially in warm summer, numerous germs can form and make the insects sick. For this reason, the drinking trough and its contents must be cleaned regularly. This means that not only do you have to change the water more often, but you also have to clean or replace the elements used. Hot water and a brush should be sufficient for this purpose. Denatured alcohol is also suitable for stubborn stains. But you have to rinse it off well afterwards.

Many worry that the bee waterer could attract mosquitoes. And indeed, these pests also like the water. After all, it serves them, among other things, to lay their eggs. Changing the water regularly will also remove any eggs and larvae and prevent them from multiplying. Otherwise you can also keep mosquitoes out of the garden or the watering hole with the right plants. So after you have built and set up the bee trough yourself, distribute suitable flowers around it. You can find out what these are in this article.

Do you now feel like making other insects happy and providing shelter? How about making an insect hotel yourself?