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How To Help Bees In The Summer

During the summertime, your bees will take care of themselves. All you need to do is occasionally check up on them every couple of weeks and head off any problems before they could get severe and snowball.

It is crucial to give your bees adequate shade in summer to protect them from the hot sun. Water is also an essential part, as bees use water for evaporate cooling for their hive. You can paint your hives with a lighter color, as darker colors absorb the sun’s heat. It will also be a good idea if your hive isn’t crowded.

Are you a worried beekeeper wondering how to keep your bees cool and safe during the summer? Then, stay reading with me as we discuss the importance of keeping your stinger friends cool during the hot days, why it is important, and what will happen if you don’t!

Why Is It Important To Keep Your Bees Cool?

Although bees do a great job of naturally managing their hive temperatures, there are some things you can do to help protect bees from the summer heat. It is very important to help our little bee friends during these hot summer days to stay cool.

Bees will always try to keep the temperature of their hives between 32 and 36 degrees. Bees can handle temperatures that range outside these limits, but it requires them to use up a lot of energy to handle it. So while they are trying to keep cool, they will not be making as much honey as they usually do.

When the temperature rises to extremely high levels, the lives of your bees may be at risk. Due to climate change, our whole world is already suffering from higher than normal temperatures, but some beekeepers are also suffering colony losses.

How To Keep Bees Safe In The Summer Heat

Most of the time, bees can control the temperature inside the hive themselves, but when thermostats rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for prolonged periods, your bees definitely need your help! Read on for some tips to keep your bees safe and assisting them to survive the dangers of heatwaves.

  1. Water source.

Water is critical for cooling the hive. Worker bees collect water in their honey guts and carry it back to their hive, which is then used for evaporative cooling. Make sure your bees a water source that they like, as they are attracted to earthy smells and do not like tap water.

Also, bees are notoriously picky about where they get their water. If you are experiencing hotter temperatures in your area, you should see bees on your water source. If you can’t see any bees on your water source, the source is probably unsuitable. It would be best to establish a suitable water source before the summer comes so that your bees can find and utilize it when temperatures rise easily.

  • Site Location.

Ideally, your site with your hives needs to provide some shade during the parts of the day, but not early morning and early evenings.

  • Your Hive.

Your bees require much less effort and energy to keep white hives cool than they would for any other color. Those of you who only have a small number of hives can paint them with any cheap white paint you should be able to pick up at your local hardware or paint store conveniently.

  • Provide Shade.

One of the most simple ways to reduce the heat inside of your hives would be to provide them with shade. You can set up an umbrella or shade tent over your hive when you see hot weather predicted in your forecast. However, it is advised to plan ahead and correctly position your hives under trees or any other forms that will provide your hives with shade.

  • Proper Ventilation.

Sometimes it is discouraged to vent your hives in hot weather because sometimes it can release the scent of honey and make your colony vulnerable to predators. However, in extreme heat, venting your hives could save your colony from melted combs and overheating.

The best way to vent your hive is by creating an upper entrance so the heat can rise through it. For example, you could drill a one-inch hole in the uppermost super. If your bees are not using this entrance, you can place a piece of screen over it so that the heat can be vented out without robbers being able to get in.

  • Remove Metal Roofing.

A lot of beekeepers use metal roofs because they are more durable and they can often look stylish. But the thing with metal roofs is that they conduct heat, and it could make a big difference in a heatwave.

You can help to reduce the heat inside your hive by covering your metal roof with something like a storage bin lid or a piece of white corrugated sheet. It would be best to trade your metal roofs and buy new, wooden ones, instead.

  • Insulation.

Insulating your hive is another way to help your colony to stay cool. Loads of beekeepers use insulation in the winter to keep their colonies warm, but insulating your hives in the summer could also be extremely beneficial. Insulation under your hive roof will help keep temperatures steady inside, even when they have spiked outside. You could also consider adding an insulation box inside of your hives.

  • Space.

Ensure that your hive or hives aren’t overcrowded. You may even need an additional super for your hives. However, placing honey above an empty super could create more work for your bees to control their hive’s temperature.

 Depending on the seasonal conditions and the ability of your hive to draw out additional foundation, place some existing honey frames in your added super and move a few of the new combs into the lower box. Another option is to simply harvest the honey box and replace it with a super of extracted drawn comb or new foundation.

  • Hive Inspections

Be sure to never open your hive during the hottest part of the day. It wouldn’t be pleasant for you to stand in the sun, and it will definitely not be pleasant for your bees! Consider postponing your hive inspection until the weather is cooler.

How To Know If It Is Too Hot In Your Hives

As all of us as beekeepers know, the most important part of beekeeping is being vigilant. There are four key ways to tell whether your bees are too hot, and if you notice any of these symptoms, it might be a good idea to help your stinger friends!

  • Your Bees Begin Bearding

When the hive’s internal temperatures can rise to excessive levels in extremely hot weather, your bees will begin to fly out of the hive. Likewise, if your hive population is great, bees will make their way out of the hive and cluster in huge numbers outside the hive.

This is to escape from the heat and stay cool. Honeybees do this mostly to keep the inside of their hives from overheating and to regulate the brood nest temperature to prevent the heat from killing the brood. Unfortunately, brood and too many busy bees in the hive will increase the heat output. Leaving the hive is a simple and effective way to regulate the internal hive temperature.

  • Water Evaporation.

In very warm weather, bees often collect water and line up near the entrance of the hive. The bees then fan the water so that it evaporates into the air. Next, they will fan the cool air circulating the hive as a sort of central air conditioning.

When I first read about this, I couldn’t believe it. But there you have it, a bee-run AC unit!

  • Your Bees Become More Aggressive.

During the hotter months, your bees may become more aggressive because they are working harder. They have to make honey AND work on keeping their hives cool. You might be in their way, or they can even see you as a threat.

  • Animals Or Pets Begin To Invade.

Bees have competition for resources because other animals and colonies know that bees are good at stocking resources. Bees are masters at finding, collecting, storing, and even being food. It seems that mother nature knows this, and honey bee colonies tend to be the biggest target for all the animals searching for some food.

During the hotter months, insects like waps or animals like skunks will eat the bees. Other animals will try to steal what the bees have been working so hard to gather and store. This is why it makes sense that bees see anything as a threat; they simply want to protect themselves and their resources.

What Happens When A Hive Is Too Hot?

When a hive is too hot, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole hive is in danger, but it might be at risk. If your beehive gets too hot, the brood can die. This is also one of the reasons why the bees move outside of the hive in hotter temperatures.

When bees get too hot, all forms of production stop, and the queen even stops laying eggs. If you’re doing your regular hive inspections and notice that the queen has stopped laying, make sure you can still find the queen. In some cases, the queen can die. If you find the queen, you can safely assume that she’s merely taking a break because of the heat.

If you notice melted wax or honey dripping from your beehive, it is clear that it is too hot in the hive. This is rare, but it could easily happen if you have a temperature above 100 degrees day after day. Honey dripping from a hive can also mean that you are at risk of losing the hive, so you will need to take action as soon as you see it.

Conclusion

During the long, hot summers, bees naturally do a pretty good job of keeping themselves cool. If you have painted your hives a light color and positioned them where they can get some shade, your bees might not need anything more from you.

However, if you notice that your bees are getting too hot, be sure to have your safe bee watering stations ready and available and vent your hives. These two things will go a long way in protecting your stinger friends from the harsh summer heat!

Jaco Stander

My name is Jaco Stander. I’m from Cape Town, South Africa. I’m a registered beekeeper with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development in South Africa. Registration number WC808. I live on a small holding where I keep my 16 beehives. Taking care of bees is a very rewarding feeling, contributing to keep our bee colonies growing and thriving, and as a bonus, enjoying that sweet pure raw honey!

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