Riding A Heat Wave
There have been sweltering temperatures the past few days with the real feel reaching 105º Fahrenheit, and humans are not the only ones trying to find relief. During a check up on the hive, we noticed that the bees were displaying a behavior that up until this point we had not seen. They seemed to be pushing out of the hive in great numbers and collecting around the outside of the hive in a clustered formation. At first glance, it is quite startling to see them pushing out of the hive in such great numbers because normally they come and go with only a handful patrolling the entrances. Although it looks like they are swarming, we learned that this behavior is quite different and no cause for alarm.
A little research revealed that the bee’s behavior is not out of the ordinary in hot weather. This clustering of bees outside the hive is known as bearding. Bearding occurs when temperatures start to creep up to the 90ºs, and also when humidity is high. The temperature balance inside the hive is very delicate, and the brood must be cooled down in high heat. The bees exit the hive and hang around the outside in clusters so that the inside temperature can become stabilized and comfortable for the queen and her brood. It is important during these high temperatures to make sure that the bees have a lot of water located near by, so we have a fresh bird bath, as well as potted soil located in pots around the yard which we have soaked through with water (bees can’t swim, so sometimes they prefer to be able to land on soil and extract the water from it). The next step is to add another box – a super – which we can then begin to harvest honey from. We plan to add the super as soon as possible.