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Sight or Smell what do bees favor

Today I decided to clean up one of my watering stations that is used by my bees and many birds in my garden.
It’s a large upended wine barrel that has a dripper on a timer so that the end of the barrel stays full of water and a clay saucer wrapped in a cloth for the bees to land on and draw water from.
The cloth was getting a tad mouldy and grubby so I added a new cloth as seen in my photo and put the old cloth on the edge of the barrel.
The bees have not touched the new cloth which is in the old position but clearly favor the old smelly cloth not what I was expecting

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Likely they are getting minerals from the old cloth so I’m guessing smell.

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:slight_smile: I’ve noticed similar. There’s gotta be nutrients and/or a fungus and/or just water that doesn’t have sediments in it, something invariably mine go to more of a dirty source as well

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Added to the comments above, bees actually leave footprint pheromones on surfaces. The pheromones attract other bees to the area - it is probably what we are doing when we put hive wax onto flow frames.

https://www.beeculture.com/a-closer-look-tarsal-glands-footprint-pheromone/

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I have to say smell since it’s pitch black inside a beehive

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I forgot to mention that I also gave the old cloth a good hand scrub and rinse without detergent so I’m not sure how much of the old smell still remains
I did see on TV a while back a bee experiment testing bee vision, they had patterns like Aboriginal dot paintings and put food on them and plain water on slightly different patterns, later in the day they took away the food and mixed up the patterns, the bees were marked with small dots so they could be tracked and identified, they all went to the patters that previously had food on them first.
I guess they use more than just one sense to find their way around