Yesterday I mentioned that it was pretty dry around here. We have also been experiencing record and near-record temperatures almost every day. This post was written several days ago, and I hope by the time you are reading it that things have gotten a little cooler around here. The weather forecasters are predicting temperatures 15-20 degrees F cooler than what we have been experiencing. I am losing faith in them fast, but I hope they are right.
On Friday 7/6 we had another example of what has been going on here for almost two weeks. General theme: HOT with no chance of rain. The last rain we did get only amounted to about 0.3 of an inch and I don’t think it did much to help the overall soil moisture.
I took a little walk around the homestead to evaluate how the bees were dealing with it. There were some surprises. The three established hives that are here seem to be taking it in stride for the most part. I have not observed any bearding to speak of really until last Friday evening. The hives with the top entrances I made earlier this Spring (1102 &1106) seem to be handling it very well actually. I attribute it to better ventilation provided by this experimental entrance. This is NOT a great experiment though because all three hives have different populations and a different number of supers.
1101 has a top entrance similar to ones I spied on another beekeepers YouTube channel. It is basically a modified inner cover with a 4″ gap that allows bees to come and go with a 4-3/4″ comb honey super on top of it. The air flow is still restricted to the small hole in the center of the inner cover. I think it probably helps as an entrance, but provides very little extra ventilation.
After viewing my managed hives I walked back to the one in the tree by the back garden (see Right under my nose). They have NO top entrance to help with ventilation, but their single entrance is fairly large. They were obviously feeling the strain of the heat with a large number of bees on the exterior of the tree. The colony was buzzing loudly in an attempt to move air in and out.
Up until this point in the summer I had not had any bees seeking water from the dog’s bowl or any of the chicken waterers. Friday 7/6 marked the day that all of that changed too. The dog’s watering bowl, right next to our main door, had a ring of bees around it. I didn’t want any of them to drown so I ripped up a paper egg carton and placed it down in the bowl. I happened to see this on a YouTube video by the guy at Georgiabees.com. I looked for it to provide a link, but couldn’t find it again. He runs his operation a little differently than I do mine, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn something from him now and again.
The video had paper egg cartons in a birdbath. Over time they will get ratty and fall apart, but a lot of people save egg cartons for me now that I have chickens so they are readily available around here. This method seems to work well, so the next time you are shopping for eggs get the ones in the paper carton. It is probably better than getting Styrofoam anyway for many other reasons than this.
I hope things are cooler wherever you are. How have your bees been coping with the summer conditions? Let me know leave a comment.