Saturday, July 17, 2010

How do bees keep cool? By blowing a breeze, baby!

It has been hot here for the last few weeks. And only getting sporatic rain doesn't help either. But then when you throw in a heaping dose of North Carolina humidity, you have the recipe for totally miserable weather. That's what we've had lately and a lot of it too. So I decided to go out and take some pictures of my girls keeping their cool...even if the rest of us couldn't. And I have to admit they were doing a pretty darn good job of it too.

As you can see, the orange hive had girls stationed across the front and fanning away. As their sisters brought in orange pollen, a row of fanners on the bottom and a few on top (you can see their bee butts) kept things cool. Same thing for the lemon yellow hive. The yellow hive is the mother hive which has two deeps full of bees, so there's lots more space to ventilate. But they fan to keep it cool in the day, and at night, many tend to cover the hive front and enjoy the night air. 

No exception to the rule, the girls in the lime green hive keep their cool too, but they tend to be a little more acrobatic than the other hives. This is the hive that's closest to the creek, so they fly out, make a sharp right and about 15 feet they can get all the cool water they want. And while all of the hives are in the full sun most of the day, in late afternoon, the ladies all get a reprieve and can take it easy since the hives fall in the shade of a row of trees. They deserve the rest after all that intense fanning all day!

So as you can see, and up close too, the bees know exactly what they're doing when it comes to keeping their cool in the harsh summer days. Nature provided honey bees with their very own air conditioning -- and believe me -- after opening my power bill this month -- theirs is much cheaper!

Stay cool my friends!      


  1. Hi Mark. My bees have been doing a lot of bearding and ventilating this summer. It's been hot.

  2. I just started keeping bees a little over 2 weeks ago, 2 hives started from nuc boxes. I notice my bees cooling their hives too. Probably because the entrance is small at the moment, my bees tend to line up in a row when they're cooling the hives. I don't have screened bottom boards, so I assume they have to work extra hard to keep the hive cool on hot humid days.

    I just looked at your first honey harvest. It looks fantastic.

    When I do my first harvest next year, I'll hope to follow the Backwards Beekeepers example using the crush and strain method. It seems like the simplest way to harvest.

    Your bees look great.



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