It is HOT and the bees need water

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.

This information comes from Hamm Weather 7/6/12 for the area code 47353.

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.

This is hive 1102 with very few bees at the entrance.

1106 has a few more bees at the entrance, but I have seen it much worse than this in previous years at similar temperatures.

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 with a beard on. Note the 4″ gap at the top between the shallow super and the comb honey super. That is their top entrance.

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.

This group of girls is HOT.


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.

Part of an egg carton in the dog’s watering bowl to keep the bees from drowning. Don’t worry the dog has another bowl, so he’s still drinking.


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  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.


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10 Responses to It is HOT and the bees need water

  1. We have the opposite problem in the UK at the moment. Too much rain, not enough sun. That’s life. Will write about it on my new beekeeping blog. Take care.

    • Jason says:

      I guess as humans we have a problem and accepting the condidtions we are currently in. I wish we could just even it all out. Given a choice between the two situations I will take the one I am dealing with. I have the ability to provide water. I won’t feed and I can’t make flowers come up and protect them from rain events.

      Last year was wet with storms in the spring destroying all of the blooms, making them unusable by the bees. I had much worse of a honey year last year. If I could just get 1-2 more good rain events before the middle of August the white clover will bloom again and salvage my year making it way better than last year.

      Good luck to you over there man! Keep me posted on how you are doing. I will put you on the blogroll and check back. After checking out your site I must tell you our MENTAL STATES are almost identical. Except I have “obsessive everything”!!!

  2. Sam says:

    I’m convinced bees do better in dry places with lots of sun, it seems like all the plants they like love dry weather. We are having a very dry year so far, very much like last year.
    I have been watching the bearding patterns on my hives ever since I had top bar hives (those bearded so bad they never went inside in the evening, I even saw some comb starting on the outside). So far the warre hives are preforming very well, but you have to keep the comb edgewise to the entrance, otherwise you get a lot of bearding and crossed comb. My worst bearders are the smallest hives, with the least amount of comb, this might explain your bee tree.
    I got my hive scale built and have been weighting my hives since early june, I was getting disappointed since they hadn’t put any weight on in almost a month (month of june) until we hit the first week of july, now they are packing it on, I have seen a lot of new white comb being built in all hives.


    • Jason says:

      Sam, you and I are on the same wavelength. Yesterday I got up early, did a couple of hours of work before work, then went to work for my 8.5Hrs, then did bee stuff until about 22:30, then came home and tried to finish a post I had planned for yesterday. I got so tired that I couldn’t proofread and finally went to bed around 24:00. I have come to the same conclusion. Dry is not as bad for a honeybee as it is for a corn farmer! I finished that post tonight, it will be up in the morning.

      Though it has been dry as could be the bees are still working something. The heat last week ~100 + or – 5 degrees was not good on em’, but they were working. There has been thistle blooming despite the dry weather. Don’t know how much it is providing them, but they are working it. I have observed them.

      That bee tree is amazing. It is a kick in the teeth to have a trap there and such a numerous colony just settle in so close. I love to watch em.

  3. Hey this is a really nice article. I was just reading about someone who is feeding hummingbirds with water and the water is being used by a local colony of honey bees – but the honey bees are drowning! Your tip about using an egg carton to stop the bees from drowning is a very useful idea.

    • Jason says:

      Remember I am not claiming the egg carton tip as my own idea. I don’t want anyone to get mad at me. Like I said they will get ratty after a while. Course bricks or stones work well too. Basically anything that they can stand on without slipping and falling into the water.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Mil says:

    I float cork boards in the bees’ watering bucket. It absorbs water, but does not sink, and the bees can safely alight on it without fear of getting waterlogged. This is a tip I learned from my teacher, Serge Labesque.

    • Jason says:

      I have used cork before. This year I have moved towards 5 gallon chicken waterers with gravel in them. The bees don’t drown.
      Surface water is a valuable asset for bees. It is something I lack here.

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