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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    660

    Default Solar Gain - How much difference can it make?

    Commercial beekeepers put their hives in full sun and I've seen some photos with massive bearding. I've kept hives under trees with only early morning or late afternoon direct sunlight to help reduce any bearding on hot days but haven't seen large honey crops from them.

    Does the extra heat make a significant difference to a honey crop or is it minimal?

    At what point does solar gain become a problem and actually work against the hive?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,519

    Default Re: Solar Gain - How much difference can it make?

    Makes sense to put the hives in full sun as it wakes the bees up earlier and puts them to bed later. This gives them more time to collect nectar. From what I gather, bees like temps up to 90 or so. Above that, bearding will occur. All depends on your particular climate I suppose.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,767

    Default Re: Solar Gain - How much difference can it make?

    Location and the climate where the hives are located go together. In Maine I put my hives in full sun - I don't think I would do that in Texas or Arizona!
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,919

    Default Re: Solar Gain - How much difference can it make?

    I would say any time it causes the temperature of the hive to rise above 95 degrees.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,832

    Default Re: Solar Gain - How much difference can it make?

    I think in most areas of the country, bees can handle being put out in the full sun with no detrimental effects. Bees in the desert southwest probably would benefit from some shade during the hottest part of day, but unfortunately the desert doesn't have many trees. I want my bees in full sun all day in my area. They do beard when it gets into the 90's but they deal with it just fine, just much more fanning going on. I think honey production increases with more sun.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    660

    Default Re: Solar Gain - How much difference can it make?

    Just looking at my Climates Stats and found we only average 3 days a month over 35C/95F in summer. Thought it was more than that. So I may have been too concerned about hives having some shade. Trying to reduce Chalkbrood too, so hotter hives should help with that as well.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,827

    Default Re: Solar Gain - How much difference can it make?

    >Does the extra heat make a significant difference to a honey crop or is it minimal?

    Significant.

    >At what point does solar gain become a problem and actually work against the hive?

    Our highs usually don't run much past 100 F or so. Once in a while 102 F or 104 F. The bees do fine in full sun at those temperatures. One summer back in the 80s in western Nebraska I saw 114 F and that was a detriment. The combs were melting and honey was running out of the entrance...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Blythe,California,USA
    Posts
    267

    Default Re: Solar Gain - How much difference can it make?

    I like full sun, I also like a little wind break. Its not always possible though. For 4 months out of the year I have to shade my bees here. By shade I mean I add an extra lid ( usually an old bottom board ) to take the brunt of the heat. Some yards have shades built from old railroad ties. Its commonly over 110 here for months at a time. Like Michael Bush said the comb will literally melt. I've seen it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
    Posts
    441

    Default Re: Solar Gain - How much difference can it make?

    question for MB: Do you have your foundationless (ie Topbar) hive in the full sun? I would think they might be a little more problematic in the hot sun as far a the comb collapsing. This year I hope to run 3 TB hives, so I might try one in the full sun. (that would be the one I plan to super)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Stockton, CA
    Posts
    301

    Default Re: Solar Gain - How much difference can it make?

    Not what your asking but, I've noticed at least here that small hive beetle love the shade for some reason.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,827

    Default Re: Solar Gain - How much difference can it make?

    >question for MB: Do you have your foundationless (ie Topbar) hive in the full sun?

    Right now I have one that gets morning sun and is in the shade of other hives in the afternoon. I have one that is in full sun. Both have older combs in them which are much tougher. I have had collapsed combs in hives in the sun in the past when it was new comb and a hard flow.

    > I would think they might be a little more problematic in the hot sun as far a the comb collapsing. This year I hope to run 3 TB hives, so I might try one in the full sun. (that would be the one I plan to super)

    Shade in the afternoon is probably a good plan at least until they have some tougher comb in the hive. Losing a couple of honey combs isn't a disaster, but if the whole hive goes down like a row of dominoes it is a complete disaster...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Hartville, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: Solar Gain - How much difference can it make?

    I keep mine in as much sun as possible. I did have them shaded a good part of the day, and when the small hive beetles got to my area (the Ozarks) I saw a lot more on the hives in the shade than when I put them in a more sunny location. I don't have enough hives to be statistically accurate, but I haven't seen much difference in honey production based on sunny versus shaded. My best honey producer and longest lived hive was in the shady area.
    Hobbyist beekeeper since 2002

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Solomon Islands, SW Pacifc
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Solar Gain - How much difference can it make?

    Living 8 degrees south of the equator we are hot and mostly sun year round with temperature fluctuations between 27C to 32C (81 to 90 F).

    I prefer full sun over shady areas to help keep the humidity down. We get 3 to 5 metres of rain with a minimum average humidity in the 90's.

    So I am focusing on the hive tops. The traditional Langstroth flat-top with iron covering is a bit hot. I was given some off cuts of Stainless sheet and darn near cooked my girls. Currently all my Lang. tops are tongue and grove with a good exterior Latex paint job. But most of the hives are under trees were they get to cool down. The next plan is to devise a curved roof out of Galvanised iron bent in a curve like a Quonset hut and move the hives out from under the trees.

    My Top Bar Hive is covered with a raised traditional leaf roof. I've hinged it to make it easy to lift. It gets direct sun for 10 hours a day and stays nice and cool. I tried to attach a picture of it but it keeps failing.

    Happy New Year to you all.

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