Let’s talk about heat.
Here in California we beekeepers are afforded an excellent
opportunity. Not only are we surrounded by beautiful scenery, but we
live in a climate that allows our bees to forage nearly year-round.
However, here in northern California we also experience extreme
temperatures. As I write this, the temperature outside is 101°F.
Because of these extreme temperatures as keepers of the bees we must consider their health and comfort as well as our own. First things first, take care of yourself. Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate. Did I say you needed to stay hydrated? If not, do it. You are no good to your bees if you don’t. So, after the beekeeper comes the bees. If you need water so do they.
Some studies state that a full sized colony can use from a quart up to a gallon of water a day. Now think of your other colonies, 2, 3, 4….10? Do the math. Obviously, a natural water source is the best, a small creek or pond is ideal, as long as it is a year round water source.
However, if you must provide water for your bees you do have the benefit of adding vitamins and minerals for the bees overall health. Some options for water are chicken watering containers or bird baths.
Other things to consider is the ventilation of your hives. In extreme
heat your bees will congregate on the “front porch” of the hive and fan
there wings to promote ventilation. Other ideas to increase ventilation
include screened bottom boards, inner covers with added entrances.
Usually 8 frame hives have enough space to provide proper ventilation while with a 10 frame hive removing a frame will increase air circulation. Keeping the hive cool in the heat is important, so keep this in mind when placing your hive. Placing your hive in a location that receives afternoon shade will help keep your bees cool during the hottest part of the day.