Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Beekeeping in the Summer: Maintaining a Hive in the Warm Weather

A few bees getting a drink of water from a nearby stream.
Summertime is here and your hives should be buzzing! With summer in full swing there are a couple things you should keep an eye on. You want to make sure that your hive is properly fed, has plenty of water, and gets proper ventilation, especially now that the temperatures are starting to rise. I don't know about your area but around here our summers can get pretty toasty! Add in the humidity and you're lucky if you don't melt! While it may not get as hot and humid wherever you live, you still want to make sure your hive is well taken care of when the heat starts to rise. The best way to keep a hive from overheating during the summer is ventilation. There are several different ways you can go about providing more ventilation for your hive: 
  • If your hive is strong and healthy you can remove your entrance reducer (8 Frame | 10 Frame) allowing more workflow with the bees as well as more space to allow air flow. If robbing starts to occurs, then you can install a moving and robbing screen (8 Frame | 10 Frame).
  • Using an IPM Screened Bottom Board (8 Frame | 10 Frame) with the corrugated sheet removed is a great tool to help with ventilation. Even during the colder months a screened bottom board assists in helping the bees control the hive's internal temperature.
  • The addition of a Slatted Rack (8 Frame | 9 Frame | 10 Frame) also helps provide space for air circulation. It provides empty space for the colony to expand freely and, during the summer, they can use that space to control ventilation by fanning their wings. Can be used all year round.
  • You can tweak the top of the hive by opening up the entrance gap in your inner cover. If you are in need of more ventilation than that, you can switch out your inner cover with a ventilated inner cover (8 Frame | 10 Frame), while still using your Hive Top.
  • An Imirie Shim (8 Frame | 10 Frame) provides more open air space as well as providing an additional upper entrance.
  • A natural way the bees take care of controlling the temperature in the hive is called bearding. This is when a large amount of bees huddle around the entrance of a hive (they look like a big bushy beard) and fan their wings to provide more air flow through the hive.
  • If possible, by removing a frame and then equally spacing out the rest of your frames, you will provide more space for air to circulate freely through the hive.
A couple hives bearding to help maintain
a stable hive temperature.

During their first summer you will want to make sure that you keep them fed and they have plenty of water available for them. Even though the world is in bloom and your hive has grown in strength there are still moments when they will need your help. An example of when you will need to provide more feed is during long periods of rain where the bees are unable to leave their hives to collect pollen and nectar. On the other side of the spectrum, if you find yourself in a drought where there are no resources available for the bees you will need to make sure you provide them plenty of nourishment. Always keep an eye on your environment and make sure you have some sugar syrup or pollen patties ready just in case.

 Summertime can be one of the best times of the year when you are a beekeeper. You have made it through spring and hopefully your hive has grown strong and is starting to flourish and working at or near maximum capacity. You still need to keep a watchful eye on your hive to make sure they are healthy and receiving the nutrition they need but we are at the time of year where the bees work their best!