Bees bless our planet in so many extraordinary ways. They are inspiring in their work ethic and organizational skills, and who doesn't love a delicious dollop of honey? In all that they do to pollinate our plants, these special insects feel the heat of hard work as much as we do. Luckily, there are some compassionate people who are trying to keep our buzzing buddies hydrated. In Japan, near Tokyo, Hitokotonushi Shrine has set up custom-made water fountains that look like tiny oases for the local hard-working bees.
Visitors to the shrine have basins of water on offer at the temizu-ya, a Shinto water ablution pavilion, for rehydration purposes. These water sanctuaries are replicated in miniature form in summer to accommodate the bees, giving them their own special place to cool off.
The little patches of bee sanctuaries are customized to accommodate the insect’s tiny but no less significant needs. The bees are kept hydrated and happy with gorgeously styled miniature landscapes that have diminutive architectural structures, soft moss, and other surfaces suitable to climb. The tiny watering points give insects of all kinds enough landing spots to drink without the risk of drowning. Access to clean, refreshing water to drink allows the bees to stabilize the temperatures of their hives, dilute their honey, and feed their young bees.
Such care for all creatures is what Shinto tradition and values are about. Respect for nature and accommodating and revering all living creatures is embedded in the Shinto way of life. This careful insect innovation includes a special water fountain built just for the bees. Another advantage of creating these bee spaces is that inter-species irritations between humans and bees are avoided, and no one gets stung.
A sign is installed at the shrine for the human visitors to ease relations with the bees that reads: “To those using the temizu, honeybees in the neighborhood are currently coming to the shrine to drink water. We are now guiding the bees to their own exclusive water drinking spot. They have a very gentle disposition so they rarely sting. Please look over them warmly without provoking them.”
When the images of the bee sanctuary were shared on the shrine’s Twitter, the story went viral. It’s heart-warming to know that people across the world care so much for the well-being of the greatest pollinators on the planet. In the height of a hot summer in Japan, these might be the coolest bees around.
Scroll down for more images of the bee oasis. To see images of the Hiokotonushi Shrine and the variety of lucky insects that frequent the tranquil and compassionate site, follow the shrine on Twitter. Find the exact location of the site near Tokyo on this map.
Japan's Hitokotonushi Shrine has created a small oasis specifically for local bees to stay hydrated in the summer heat.
Bee lovers and conservationists on Twitter are all abuzz with the tiny innovations that offer bees a spot to rest and hydrate.
The structures are designed so insects can carefully drink water without drowning in it.
Watch the bees using the shrine's hydrating station:
— 一言主神社 (@hitokoto0913) July 6, 2022