Mid 90′s in the shade
Talk about hot! It has been hot here in this last week, The weather is cooler now…but last week we had several days of mid 90′s F in the shade. Regardless of how we humans feel, the bees seem to cope with the heat rather well. My bees have been very busy gathering the last of the blackberry nectar flow and carrying it home to ripen into honey. They are also gathering another liquid in large quantities…water.
This spring I installed a flower area in our family garden. In this mini-garden I built a bird bath with a rock in the middle for aesthetic purposes. I did not realize that my bees would use this rock as a perch. The rock has a rough texture that the bees are able to grip easily. They land at the water’s edge and drink their fill. Then they fly off to deliver their load to the hive.
Back at the hive, the bees evaporate the water to cool the hive. When it is very hot, you can see the bees sitting on the front porch of the hive fanning their wings to increase the evaporation of the water within the hive. (You can see a video here.) This helps the bees to maintain a constant temperature inside the hive in order to preserve the safety of the developing bees.
As you can see in some of the pictures, our birdbath is quite the local watering hole. Wasps, yellow jackets and mud daubers as well as honey bees all visit the birdbath to obtain their quota of water. Taking these pictures was quite fun with all those hornets flying around!
Overall, I have been pleased with my Warre Hives. Earlier this spring I populated seven hives with feral swarms. Two of the swarms were queenless, so l ended up combining them with two other hives which were queenright. Most of my hives are now two boxes tall. One is three boxes and my largest hive is almost four boxes tall, which is not bad considering the late spring this year. We had so much rain and cold weather in April and May that all spring time growth (including beehives) was delayed for weeks.
But now the nectar is flowing, the bees are flying, the sun is shining and the honey is ripening. I will be able to harvest at least the top box of beeswax and honey from the large hive above. I have peeked into the hive and the boxes are full of beautiful white beeswax and golden honey. I can’t wait to taste the harvest. Summer is a good time to be a beekeeper!