Guttation Water – Oh My Gosh!

Here’s a neat Wikipedia photo of guttation water on a strawberry plant.

Guttation is the process plants use to handle excess water pressure developed when the leave’s stomata are closed or they aren’t transpiring. Xylem sap moves directly from the roots, depositing water droplets directly on the leaves or other plant structures.

Guttation water normally carries some sugars, a few minerals, and salts found in uncontaminated soil. But when man mistreats the soil, plant roots are exposed to much more than is naturally found there. Fungicides, herbicides, soil pesticides, systemic pesticides, environmental contaminates, and degradation products of all the above are concentrated there.

It was thought that these kinds of contaminates were locked up in the soil. If dust exposure was abated and water runoff water controlled, bees would be minimally exposed to these kinds of chemicals.

I wonder what else is sucked up and in what concentrations under actual field conditions? What kind of synergistic poisons await a bee looking to cool the hive, quench a colony’s thirst, or to dilute honey to feed young bee larva?


Under the video’s test conditions the bees died. That’s the good news! And that’s what most researchers look for when evaluating guttation impacts.

But under what conditions would the bees live and contaminate the hive? What happens to a colony’s beneficial bacteria when such contaminates are passed, in sub-lethal doses from worker to worker? Is their immune system compromised?

So far, my discussion on probiotics has focus on probiotic bacteria. But what about the other beneficial organisms likes yeasts and fungi? What happens when they are exposed to a chemical soup from guttation?

Oh my gosh! What have we done to ourselves with modern agriculture and the bee! I think of Sam Comfort’s short answer. 🙂

Maybe the bees need an external probiotic source now more than ever!

Clean Water Source

And maybe it’s way past time to routinely provide a clean water source for our bees.

What kind of water to use? What effect might water treated with chloramines have on the bee’s gut? That’s something I will have to think about and research. It will make a good topic for a future post.


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6 responses to “Guttation Water – Oh My Gosh!”

  1. Doug Warner says:

    Dennis, have you done any research on what Chloramines might do to a Bee’s gut. The reason that I am asking this is that I may have experienced severe hive loss after feeding my bees a sugar syrup made with my heated tap water this past fall (Oct/Nov 2010) — My water utility switched from Chlorine to Chloramine in July. Thanks.

    • -bW says:

      Hi Doug

      I had the same question when our water system went to Chloramine about a decade ago. There’s little to no information available on how it affects bees. A few beekeepers report no problems. But I suspect long term effects aren’t good.

      Chloramine treated water is a mess. It has a noticeable green color. You can see the color in a five gallon bucket of water. And it’s noticable in those poly tanks. Check out this photo of a swimming pool filled with choramine treated water. It is generated in various ways. Injected at different concentrations. And it won’t degrade with exposure to UV or with time.

      My bees have had little exposure to chloramine water. They had natural water resources available and could fly when I fed them with one round of chloramined sugar syrup a decade ago. No bee loss was seen.

      This last season was the first time I’ve feed them with chloramined sugar syrup since then. The bees had lots of problems. I don’t know whether chloramines were a factor or not.

      I know more about choramine’s effects from my kombucha experience. A kombucha culture will initially survive. But the culture gets weaker with each batch. And the microbial balance changes significantly. After the fourth batch, a culture that would grow a 1″ plus thick scoby will be fortunate to produce one that is 1/8″ thick. And the resultant kombucha can have off or strange flavors. Another four to six kombucha batches and the culture will completely fail.

      When in South Florida, I couldn’t get chloramine free water. They recycle gray water back into drinking water there. And use chloramines extensively. So, I researched the subject and tried a variety of methods to ‘treat’ the water. It was mostly a waste of time. Chloramine concentrations could be reduced, but not below levels that affected the kombucha culture. I only use untreated well water for my kombucha now.

      Microbes, similar to those found in kombucha, are necessary for life and health in both the bee and bee colony. I suspect long term, significant exposure to chloramines would them as well.

      I am a water drinker. When I have access to my father’s well water I freely drink lots of it. But when I return home to my chloramine water, I initially drinks lots. But as time goes on I drink less. Until I only drink a glass or two per day.


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