Bee-Oh-Bee it's HOT Outside!
Bees vs Heat
By: Chari Elam
What’s a bee to do? Living in a house with 45-60 THOUSAND of your sisters - wing to wing - antenna to antenna…packed in like…well, bees! This can really generate some heat!
Are you seeing this?
Join the club! Most bees (not all) will exhibit this behavior this time of year. Some areas have very high humidity making it even more prolific. Regardless, heat is harder on our bees than cold. Therefore, their only recourse is to relieve some pressure. I often wonder how they decide “who” will go out and take their turn hanging out on the front…drawing straws perhaps? No…seriously, it’s the 10–20-day old bee (pre-forager stage) that tends to hang out on the front porch to relieve overcrowding as well as fan the hive to help reduce the temperature inside. Have you ever noticed these bees will often “washboard” as if they are bored? Maybe – just maybe, that’s what wash”bored”ing really is?! Hmm…
Past President Central Texas Beekeepers Association
Listen to what these Experts have to say about what causes bearding and what to do about it!
Instead of freaking out like I did when I was a new beekeeper, understand that these bees are performing an important task and it is very much helping the hive. There are some measures we can take to do our part to help them in this heat.Ventilation
- Prop the front of the lid up slightly (resting on the inner cover)
- Place spacers (pennies, toothpicks) under all four corners of the outer cover (between the lid and inner cover)
- Screen bottom board w/o the insert
- Screen inner covers
- Remove entrance reducers. Utilize a robbing screen to mitigate robbing opportunities with the entrance fully open. When resources are scarce, robbing will commence!
Keep bees where they can have some shade in the afternoon. If their location is in full sun, you can either move them to an afternoon shade location or place a canopy over the hives. Providing “some” shade can go a long way to helping – but this isn’t always feasible. If not, don’t worry about it. Follow the ventilation methods above and they will be just fine.
Keep a “cool” water source available. Most shallow containers and streams can become very hot and often dry up. If no pond or deeper water source is available, provide one that is maintained in the shade. It prevents evaporation as well as being so hot the bees won’t visit it.
Vice President - Texas Beekeepers Association President - Austin Area Beekeepers Association Master Beekeeper
Vice President Harris County
Beekeepers Association Treasurer-
Real Texas Honey Program Certified
Texas Master Beekeeper
Although not the most popular time of year to make splits – summer splits can go a long way in reducing the population of the hive thus cooling the hive a bit, while giving your bee yard a boost in numbers going into fall. See Blake’s article on doing Summer Splits.
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