Many backyard beekeepers seem to go into a panic about providing water for their bees. I don’t see how it’s even a problem in a wet place like Newfoundland. But I guess we have dry spells from time to time and it might be a good idea to keep water out for the bees so they don’t congregate around some neighbour’s swimming pool.
In my experience, the magic ingredient is stinky dirt or pieces of half rotten wood that can float in the water — something that gives off an odour that’s attractive to the bees. That black earth boggy compost smell seems to be a winner with most of the honey bees I’ve known. Also, the more money and the more effort that’s put into creating a source of water for the bees, the less likely they are to use it.
I’ve written about this before, but for me, the chicken waterer works well because it can hold water that will last for days (much larger chicken waterers about the size a bucket probably work even better), though a large terracotta clay plate full of sticks and rocks does a pretty good job too.