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Hot days make for cranky bees

Well, with July comes hotter weather. That makes beekeeping more challenging and often less enjoyable. I remember hearing from a seasoned beekeeper awhile back that by July, beekeepers should do themselves a favor and stay the heck out of their hives. I believe this is wise advice. Hot days make for hot-tempered bees who just want to stay cool.

Bees incorporate several ways to keep their hive mates cool.

One is the use of water. Bees need water not only for consumption, but also to cool off their hive. Similar to cooling towers on buildings, house bees are employed to beat their wings over fluids to induce evaporative cooling. Other worker bees will stand out on the landing board in front of the hive and beat their wings to help suck out the hot air within the hive.

Hive temperature is critical to maintaining healthy hives. Since hives are a super-organism, they too, can suffer from heat stress. To maintain healthy brood development, brood cells must be maintained at a constant temperature of between 89.6 - 95 Fahrenheit. Worker bees can employ a third option to help keep their brood healthy by using a process known as heat-shielding. Adult bees can withstand temperatures up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. When temperatures top 95 degrees, adults will press themselves against the brood nest wall to absorb the excess heat.

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