This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Heat Blast

This week will be a blistering week for beekeepers. As beekeepers venturing out, looking at bees in a bee suit for a long time can be dangerous. Heat stroke kills more people a year than all other weather related deaths combined.
A beekeeper friend of mine has a business associate that was cutting trees down on that 102 degree day a month ago. The guy did not follow hot weather rules of drinking enough water and slow down a bit. The last I heard he came down with heat stroke and had been in the hospital for three weeks. There is a possibility that he may have brain damage.
So in this hot weather slow down, drink plenty of water and minimize trips to the bee yard. It is not worth serious injury that can impact your family.
How do the bees cope? In this hot weather the bees are collecting water and placing it in the hive and fanning on the entrance cooling down the hive. Beekeepers try to thing like bees and provide extra ventilation. Does this help a hive? While I have not seen research on this, there is a possibility this can cause a negative effect. The extra ventilation can possibly disrupt the air currents in a colony and the hive may not be able to cool or dehumidify nectar as it ripens effectively.
When it is hot, bees will congregate, sometimes in great numbers on the front of the hive. This is normal behavior. Honey production may fall off. Nectar producing plants sometimes stop producing nectar during high heat conditions. Bees themselves may become highly defensive if a hive is dug into. Swarming may increase also during this time.
For myself if I have to go out it is to check on supers. Quick checks under the cover and always use a smoker. Add supers if needed then back into the truck and the A/C.