In case you haven't heard, the south has been hit with a tropical heatwave. Oh yeah, my friends, it is really hot here. How hot you ask? Well, when I left for work on Wednesday afternoon, the temperature at the house was 103 degrees. At my office in downtown Reidsville, it was 100. And at our regional office in Danville, Virginia (which is about 24 miles north) it was 102 degrees. And to think that just last week, a cool front moved through and the daytime highs only reached the low 80s for a few days. It never fails that with the weather being this extreme, people don't ask you how you're doing, they ask you if its hot enough for you.
I had a great question put to me today by a co-worker. He wanted to know how the honey bees survive in this type of weather. My answer to him was, very well, thank you!
To help illustrate how the bees stay cool in hot weather, I made these pictures on Wednesday night. Beekeepers know this is a common sight in summer months -- many times its called bearding. This is a night-time occurance. Why at night? Because the forager or worker bees are gone in the daytime, out working and searching for pollen and nectar. But at night, when the whole colony is back home, it gets hot and crowded in the hive. So, many of the bees will go outside to relax -- much like people do by sitting on their front porches at night. The really cool thing is to stand right in front of the hive and listen to the steady buzzing of the bees as they fan their wings. It sounds like a fan on low speed. The only thing missing is a big, cold glass of lemonade.
The yellow hive is the oldest of the three, and the lime and orange hives are this year's splits -- so they don't have quite the population as the mother hive. But as you can see, they're doing just fine, and the girls are working to keep their sisters (and queen) cool during these miserable, muggy nights. Good job, ladies!
Until next time, bee cool!