There are some ways you can help to support your bees during the extreme heat of the summer months. This is especially important because the summer is critical to the bees success during the fall, winter, and early spring. They are hard at work finding food (nectar) to store and turn into honey. They’re overworked, growing, and stressed by all that mother nature, humans, and other pests throw at them. The last thing any beekeeper wants to do is regret not supporting their bees through the tough times.
Here are a few things to consider and plan for during the most extreme times of heat:
1. Water barrel with corks or stones
It is always better to have water that you can clean and control in the yard for them
2. Fill a water dish, just like you would do for your dog or cat
Grab that old dog dish or broken tupperware and put it outside on a table with corks or stones in it. It’s a simple way to fill it up every time you walk past it.
3. Make sure you have running water nearby
You’re set. Just make sure that the water isn’t contaminated. There are ways you can test for this with some simple water testing supplies. You should always be sure the water source that your bees are getting water from is clean of mosquito larva and other natural chemicals, too. If it’s not, your bees may not be happy.
4. Put water in your feeder jar
By far the simple thing to do is to make sure you feeder jars are filled with water instead of feed, especially if there is nectar a plenty out in the world.So you’ve got water… CHECK.
Ventilation in your hive
As much as bees are masters of HVAC, that doesn’t mean it’s not stressful. After all, your air conditioner broke down when it had to work harder and your equipment isn’t even living.
Think about how bees move air through their colony. They are evaporating moisture from nectar, eliminating airborne contaminants, and… here’s the big one… keeping cool! Bees typically heat and cool their hive to keep it between 93 degrees and 95 degrees Fahrenheit all year round.
In warm weather, they take that water you put out for them and put in a circle near the entrance. Then they take
I don’t know about you, but when I get really hot, I become more irritable, stressed, and tired. It’s very similar for the superorganism of the honey bee colony. Bees have to work harder to stay cool, to do their work, and to keep everything moving forward.
There are a couple of ways to see if the bees are working hard at this.
1. Your bees begin bearding
In warm weather, the bees collect water and line up near the hive entrance. The bees fan the water so that it evaporates into the air. They then fan the cool air so that it circulates around the hive as a sort of central air conditioning.
And there it is, a bee-run AC unit. Your probably shouldn’t expect them on the market anytime soon, though. Especially because the bees are working super hard to just keep their home cool.
2. Your bees become more aggressive
In the hot months, bees become more aggressive because they are working harder. You might be in their way or they may think you’re a threat.
3. Animals or pests begin to invade
Bees have competition for resources because other animals and colonies know that bees are great at stocking resources. They are masters at finding, collecting, storing and even BEING food. It seems all of mother nature knows this and honey bee colonies tend to be the best target for all the animals searching for some food.
Insects like wasps or animals like skunks will eat the bees. Other animals will invade to try to steal what the bees have been working so hard to gather and store. It makes sense that the bees begin to see threats to their work everywhere.
You can help your bees with ventilation so they can spend their time collecting food and defending the colony. In the Beepod, there is a screen bottom board with removable vent boards. Remove those.
In some other setups, screened bottom boards help the bees to work less in ventilation because they don’t have to force air out a small opening. If you don’t have one of these, I’d suggest getting one.
Speaking of pests, one way to help the entire ecosystem is to ensure there is food aplenty in your direct area to support all of pollinators and other small insects. This will turn your garden into a convenience store for your bees and can reduce the impact of outside pests attacking your bees.
Remember that aggressiveness thing? Think about how you feel when you’re hungry and hot. A little bit irritable? Bees get that way, too, if they can’t find enough nectar to keep everyone fed. Low blood sugar is painful.
This can increase robbing of other hives. One colony versus another colony can make for a hostile bee yard. See what’s going on by watching what’s happening at the hive entrances. You will notice bees fighting and potentially creating an “alarm-pheromone.”