Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?
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  1. #1
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    Default Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything I can do to help my bees?

    Hi everyone!

    We were over 100 degrees today. My concern is some weather channels are predicting 110F or near and for sure triple digits for one entire week.

    Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    I created two small ponds nearby and the bees are drinking heavily, so that is good.

    What else can I do?

    I was thinking of placing some of that building material 1" Styrofoam a top each row of hives. Another idea was to simply place 20"x8ft. pieces of plywood on top of each row of hives.

    What about ventilation? Should I crack open all the covers or should I keep them sealed?

    Also, is the pic I am posting a normal "beard" or is a possible swarm taking over a drone hive? None of our other hives are bearding anything like that! The beard actually goes from the top of the hive all the way down to the ground, with a pile of bees on the ground too! Yo, wasssss up with that?

    Thanks,

    Soar

    6.16.17.jpg
    Last edited by soarwitheagles; 06-17-2017 at 01:09 AM.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Yuba County, California, USA
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    My hives are all in the sun, reduce entrances, no other special things done. They've survived heat waves before like this. You have water ponds for them, that's a good thing. That beard is pretty odd seeing as it's the only one in your yard, hopefully they are not getting ready to swarm.

  4. #3
    Join Date
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    York County, VA, USA
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    If you want to let the bees use physical effects they "know" how to use,

    1.) shield them from the sun so they don't have to get rid of the added heat. I use aluminum foil for some such purposes. In NoCal, you might think about taping some to the southernmost side of the hives. I used to have aluminum Venetian blinds with polished aluminum finish on one side and alabaster white on the other. The western-facing kitchen was lots cooler in the summer evening sun with the blinds closed with the reflective side out.

    2.) It's arid where you are. Folks use "swamp coolers" and I have read that the bees use evaporative cooling that same way. They should probably be the ones controlling their airflow so that as air passes through, it evaporates water and things cool off. With unlimited airflow at low hum, the inside of the hive will cool off, but only until the water evaporates. Think "swimsuit in a hot breeze," and remember the breeze only feels cool until the water dries up and takes the larvae with it.

    3.) listen to people with experience more than you listen to me. Ray above is probably a good candidate. But it ought to make sense eventually, and you ought to be able to do things that make the bees' jobs (staying alive; making more bees) easier.

    Michael
    "I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong." (heard often from the late David Sebree) Still making them, myself

  5. #4
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    May 2015
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    My hives are all in the sun, reduce entrances, no other special things done. They've survived heat waves before like this. You have water ponds for them, that's a good thing. That beard is pretty odd seeing as it's the only one in your yard, hopefully they are not getting ready to swarm.
    Ray, thank you for your reply. Most of our hives began to beard today more than I have seen all year long. Yes, that one large beard has me concerned too...the darn beard went all the way down into the earth and I do not recall seeing that before!

    I am fairly certain this is the hive that had only drones in it and JRG told me we should just leave it and let it die for now. It appears as if a swarm may have landed on it and taken it over and now hopefully they will call it their home!

    This has happened to two other of our hives that either died or were too weak to rebuild. Suddenly a swarm will take it over and make it into a gang buster hive...

    This has been such an unusual year Ray. That is swarm #19. I think I had better run out and place another super up top, and add some frames of eggs and larvae. Just need to find the time and a cooler part of the day!

    I am still tempted to add a shade device to all our hives Ray...one year, I remember seeing a lot of comb and honey fall right off the frames without plastic due to excessive heat...I would really like to avoid another catastrophe like that!

    Large bee beard 2.jpg

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    That would be great if it is a swarm moving in huh?

    The added sun protection of the styrofoam and or plywood can only help with this hot sun we are having. Maybe styrofoam tops with plywood sheet over it huh?

    Some of my hives get afternoon shade, some do not, they should do OK though as they've survived 112F days in past years. There is plenty of water around my area so they should be able to keep the hive interior cool enough to make it through this weekend and next week.

    I hope you and your hives survive this heat wave without any difficulty.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    Sometimes when it's really "hot" here (in the 90s, LOL) I will lean something (a piece of winter foam insulation is typically what I use because it is lightweight and stored nearby during the summer months) diagonally up against the side of hive that faces the long, late afternoon sun to put that side in the shade. Not close against the hive where it would trap heat, just something to create some temporary shade on the sunniest side.

    My telecovers also always have 1.5 inches of foam insulation tucked up inside them, and most of my colonies have quilt boxes on year round these days. These two things help keep the roof/attic space cooler and temper excess heat gain. Setting foam insulation over a row of colonies wouldn't hurt, but foam inside each tele would be cheaper and less likely to blow around.

    110F and drought will be hard on your 500 acres of clover blossoms, but maybe it's on irrigated fields. I'm just feeling snippy because my neighboring dairy farmer has newly hired a university-trained agronomist who is very good at managing. So the fields of blooming clover that ought to have been chopped a couple of weeks earlier appear to be a thing of the past. Alas! OTOH, if it's cut before my bees are on it, fewer of them will turn into silage.

    Enj.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    Every summer when the heat waves are on I use a thick cardboard box cut into larger pieces to
    shield out the hot sun. They are put on top of the hives sticking out a bit for some hot afternoon shade.
    The local dollar stores have the aluminum bubble wrap laminated car windshield sun shades. I use those too to block out
    the sun on top of the hives. Now they have the improved sturdier version good for shading the hives.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    Thank you gentlemen for your good advice and replies.

    I was thinking I already have 20"x96" cut pieces of plywood stacked up within 100 ft. of the bee yard. I will probably use the plywood to cover the 5 or so hives on each stand. This will be the easiest and simplest way to provide extra shade and to avoid the direct sunlight hitting the hive boxes. I do not want to cut up all the insulation because then it would be nearly useless for us to use. Enj, I really like your idea of installing insulation under the cover...have you any designs you could share?

    Ray, I snuck out at 5 am to look at the hives...really strange...many still have the beards nearly to the ground. The hive in question, well, nearly all the bees migrated inside the box. Just when I think I may have bees a little figured out, they do really strange stuff...now I have no clue what that hive is, or how all those bees got there. I do know I am happy to see our little bee yard growing like crazy!

    I will share my greatest concern with you guys: Due to time constraints, I have failed to quarantine any of the new swarms we have caught...I simply transfer them directly into our bee yard. I was told it is a good practice to quarantine all new swarms for at least one month before moving them into the yard...and that practice sure sounds much safer than what I have been doing...

    Any thoughts on this gentlemen?

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    Insulation under the tele doesn't require a "design".

    Just measure the inside dimensions of the actual covers, and cut a piece of 1" or 1.5" thick insulation to make a tight fit. Shove it in. It has the added advantage protecting the under surface of the tele from condensation and mold if you use hive top feeders with exposed syrup in them.

    Occasionally some of my bees get up through the hole in the inner cover and nibble a bit of the foam, which I don't think is particularly good for them. If I see that I simply use shiny aluminum HVAC tape(not duct tape) to cover the foam.

    The one thing that adding foam does is reduce the utility of the overhanging sides of the teles, so you may need to add weight to the tops (or straps) to keep them in place.

    I forgot to mention before that all of my colonies also have a plastic political sign on top that is cantilevered about 6 to eight inches over the front to provide a sort of rain and sun awning for the front entrances. Two bricks keep them in place, one running longitudinally and sticking out a few inches in the front, and second one running crosswise across the back end of the sign.

    If you lay plywood across groups of the hives, you could just set foam under it and that would be a better thermal break. Easy on and off, too.

    Enj.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    Yesterday it was 108 here and will be up to 120 by Wednesday according to whether man and we have no issues the bees can not handle. It is a dry heat until our monsoon season gets started in July, but with the dry air the bees cool much like the evaporative cooler in our house by fanning water into the hive as they spit it out. Our hives are in mottled shade from mesquite trees in the afternoon and water sources are available in several places that they use heavily.

    Sat
    Jun 17

    Excessive Heat Warning & High Pollution Advisory
    110 / 78
    0%
    Sun
    Jun 18

    Excessive Heat Warning & High Pollution Advisory
    114 / 80
    0%
    Mon
    Jun 19

    Excessive Heat Warning & High Pollution Advisory
    118 / 85
    0%
    Tue
    Jun 20

    Excessive Heat Warning
    120 / 90
    0%
    Wed
    Jun 21

    Excessive Heat Warning
    119 / 91
    0%
    Thu
    Jun 22

    Excessive Heat Warning
    115 / 90
    0%
    Fri
    Jun 23

    Still blazing hot!
    113 / 89
    0%
    Cheers Bill
    zone 9b

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    Don't sweat it. They can handle the heat as long as there's a water supply. We have hives in Lake County where it's routinely 100+ and have no problems. A couple years ago it was 115 during 4th of July week - they bearded like crazy but were fine.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by soarwitheagles View Post
    ...I will share my greatest concern with you guys: Due to time constraints, I have failed to quarantine any of the new swarms we have caught...I simply transfer them directly into our bee yard. I was told it is a good practice to quarantine all new swarms for at least one month before moving them into the yard...and that practice sure sounds much safer than what I have been doing...

    Any thoughts on this gentlemen?
    I have always figured that if the hive was healthy enough to swarm, then they were healthy enough to be put into my beeyard. Besides, I've rarely had another location yard to use as a quarantine yard either. I've not had any problems from putting hived swarms into my beeyard so far, other than they sometimes have queen failure or perform superceder soon after getting established in the new digs.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    My hives are all in the sun, reduce entrances, no other special things done. They've survived heat waves before like this. You have water ponds for them, that's a good thing. That beard is pretty odd seeing as it's the only one in your yard, hopefully they are not getting ready to swarm.
    Ray why would you reduce the entrance? I would think to have better air flow you would open it up.

  15. #14

    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    I had a beard like that for over 2 weeks now with my "observation hive" in my garden at my home.
    15cm entrance, closed floors, one deep dadant, two mediums on top ( one deep), insulation above, the metal lid covered with a wooden lid.

    Not to miss swarming I opened and found it was mostly the drones hanging outside and some workers sleeping.
    No swarm cells, no problems with ventilation. They used the humidity from nectar to cool the hive.
    Near the beard normal traffic and orientation flights go on.
    I have wooden boxes, thick walls.

    More and more I trust MB who said the bees are more able to keep temperature if the hive has closed floors and not too many gaps.
    Last year with open floors they fanned like crazy.

    But im not able to estimate your situation.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billboard View Post
    Ray why would you reduce the entrance? I would think to have better air flow you would open it up.
    I feel that with too large of entrance or too many openings that it makes it harder for the bees to manage the inner environment. My entrances are 3/4" high and about 2" wide. I've toyed around with the idea of removing one side stick and putting the other in the center, thereby giving two entrances, one on each side of the front porch landing board. That might help them getting a circular motion of air currents going? But so far, They seem to do fine the way I have it.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    Our local bee club likes to advise grabbing plywood or coroplast (like old campaign signs -- I guess they are up for grabs 1 week after the elections if not removed) to shade hives.

    I put mine under shade sails on the east side of my house. Weak colonies may not survive when it gets into the 115+ range. Honey running out the front is the giant red flag.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    ...I've toyed around with the idea of removing one side stick and putting the other in the center, thereby giving two entrances...That might help them getting a circular motion of air currents going?...
    I put hardware cloth across the bottom entrance in summer, leaving half to three fourths of an inch open for bee traffic. Sometimes they leave it like that, and sometimes they propolize the center and leave openings for airflow on each end of the entrance. A top vent seems to make me feel better too.
    Last edited by Lburou; 06-17-2017 at 06:33 PM.
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    Bees use evaporative cooling to control the heat in summer. Having used swamp coolers in the past (Utah is the 2nd driest state in the nation), I understand how they work. They need 2 things to work properly. Water and air movement. Air blows through the cooler's water soaked pads and so the air is cooled as much as 20 degrees. The cool air continues throughout the house, as long as the air can flow. Swampers do not work well when the windows are all closed. Neither will they work properly if the windows are all open. To work best, a window in each room must be cracked open just a bit, enough to allow the water-cooled air to push the warm dry air out. Ventilation is critical!

    It's the same principal in beehives. Ventilation is critical. Air needs to come in and be cooled by the bees with water, and hot air needs to get blown out. Be certain that your hives have enough ventilation, but be very careful that it's not too much. If you believe that you have enough ventilation in the bottom entrance, it could very well be beneficial to just give the top a slight opening, just a crack, so that the air can be properly exchanged. It doesn't take much. Too much ventilation is counter-productive.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    I agree with Hops Brewster (above), but there is a small clarification.

    >> and hot air needs to get blown out.

    The air exhausted from the hive is more humid, but actually cooler* than when it came in to the hive. Technical explanation here, in the Direct Evaporative Cooling Systems section :
    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/ev...ing-d_698.html



    * measuring dry bulb temperature
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Help! Massive Heat Wave. Is there anything can I do to help my bees?

    I stand corrected.

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