Hanging Out on the Hive

The summer is shaping up to be a long hot one. Very little rain and a lot of days in the 90's, and even some hitting triple digits.  

My last inspection indicated that things were going well with both my hives, new brood and lots of honey. I hope to do another inspection soon, and maybe even harvest some honey if the stores have continued to increase. We are in a severe drought, but despite that fact I still see lots of wildflowers in bloom, so the bees seem to be doing all right with their foraging. Of course, with top bar hives you have to be careful when you do an inspection. In weather this hot the comb is really soft and can fall apart if you disturb it.

The bees like to keep the temperature inside the hive in the mid 90's. The temperature has to be kept in the correct range or development of the brood may be impacted. And too high of temperatures can even cause the comb to melt and collapse. To keep the hive cool during hot summer days large numbers of bees will exit the hive and hang on the outside of the hive. Many may even fan their wings at the entrance to improve ventilation. This called “bearding” and can be an indication of an over crowded hive, but may also mean they are simply too hot.

BeeBeard1

BeeBeard1

My first hive beards frequently, though I rarely see the second one do so. The second hive does have a screened bottom, and even though I keep the cover bottom board installed, I imagine that it still gets more ventilation that way. Its white aluminum roof may also help it stay cooler. Of course, this is give and take, because staying cooler may be good in the middle of the summer, but can make it challenging for the bees to maintain a warm enough temperature in the fall and winter.

There are a lot of bees hanging out under the edge of the roof by the entrances. There are also a lot of bees that hang out under the hive on one end where my lack of carpentry skill have left a gap big enough for bees to pass through. I was originally going to try and fix this, but it seemed that the bees were using it as a second entrance, so I left it be. They could choose to seal it up with propolis, but didn't, so I think it may help provide some ventilation. A spider had built a web in the area and caught a few bees so I removed it.

BeeBeard2

BeeBeard2

I usually let spiders and ants bee, unless I find them inside the hive or they build a web across the entrance. I've wondered if maybe allowing them to coexist with the bees might actually deter other more harmful bugs like wax moths and hive beetles.

Over all both hives seem to to be doing well. If we actually get some rain I can see them really going crazy as everything blooms.