What Do Bees Like to Eat and Drink?

Bees depend on pollen and nectar for nourishment and water to regulate body fluids.

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G. C. Butler of Britain observed in 1940 that bees preferentially collected water from polluted sources rather than clean sources, like streams or lakes.2

Honey bees attempting to fill their nectar needs often turn to overripe fruit as a food source, often finding scent from its fragrant blossoms to guide their search and its soft skin easily breaking apart so they can puncture it with their stingers and obtain sustenance.


Bees take out during the day in search of pollen – an energy source rich in protein – which they transport back to their hives using special pollen baskets worn on their hind legs.

Bees collect nectar, which contains carbohydrates and complex sugars to sustain themselves, from nectar sources. Dewdrops provide water to drink. Bees tend to favor nectar that’s higher in lipids (fats) and proteins over those containing more carbs for consumption.

Bees use pollen grains to fertilize other flowers and help the plants produce offspring that will become seeds. Pollen grains contain both vegetative cells and generative cells with genetic material for creating new plants.

Some beekeepers feed their bees sugar for winter food sources and to supplement protein and fat needs during dry spells when flowers don’t produce nectar. Sugar should typically be mixed with water so as to not freeze during freezing temperatures, although other beekeepers choose dry sugar as this requires no bees to liquefy it themselves and is therefore less costly and more convenient for their beekeeping operation.


Honey bees rely heavily on nectar for sustenance throughout the summer, spring, and fall – they simply couldn’t survive without it! Nectar is an energy-rich sugar solution containing proteins, salts, acids and floral oils to impart their distinctive fragrance to blooming flowers.

Bees collect nectar by sucking it up through an extended tube-like structure known as a proboscis or by directly licking flowers themselves, using their tongue to pierce them and extract nectar – they can collect up to 80 milligrams per foraging trip depending on which flowers they target.

Diet of bees typically consists of pollen and nectar, though this varies depending on their species. Solitary bees store pollen mixed with some nectar for feeding larvae at early growth stages.

Other bees convert nectar to royal jelly for use during their winter dormant period, when queen bees, drones and older worker bees need extra sustenance during this dormant time of the year. Meanwhile foragers use this opportunity to supplement their diets by accessing stores of stored honey which often contain neonicotinoid pesticides that bees cannot detect as harmful and therefore fail to avoid when collecting nectar from fields contaminated with neonicotinoids – thus leading them down this route of collecting nectar contaminated fields altogether!


Honey is a delicacy produced from nectar and pollen mixed together with enzymes produced by bees and stored in bee combs to ripen into sticky honey, often used as sweetener but packed full of protein, minerals and sugars (amino acids). Honey has been enjoyed for thousands of years as natural product that people love eating!

Bees consume nectar for energy and pollen for its protein-rich composition. Foraging bees harvest both sources, transporting nectar back to their colonies in special stomachs known as honey stomachs while collecting pollen grains on their hairs around their bodies, then depositing them in special pollen baskets on their hind legs. From here it goes onto nurse bees who convert it to royal jelly for queens and drones and larvae who will later develop into workers and queens.

Bees need water just like us humans do in order to regulate body fluid regulation, and for this reason they often prefer polluted sources, like gutters and puddles contaminated by cow dung or dog urine splashing onto them. Bees must take caution not to drink these sources directly as this could expose them to harmful chemicals, so to help thirsty bees provide water, consider leaving buckets outside for them or providing shallow dishes such as bird baths with pebbles for drinking from.