The video shows the bees repairing and rebuilding their colony after water had entered the hive box during heavy rain.
If your hive box was completely submerged in flood water it’s likely the colony will not survive.
It’s up to you if you want to take steps to check inside. If the bees are still busy flying, collecting resources and removing rubbish you might be ok! This is a bit of “How long is a piece of string question” as it depends on how much water and how strong the colony is.
Signs of water inside the hive
- You just know
- Lots of stains on the outside from bees spitting out water
- No bee activity after heavy rain – no buzzing coming from the entrance
How does the water get in?
- Flooded – submerged in water
- Heavy rain hits the side of the box and enters through the joining or mating surfaces between the box frames
- If you leave tape on the joins after a split, water can run down the side of the box and the tape can direct the water in to the box
- Rain enters through the front entrance
- A good roof can help protect your hive from heavy sideways rain
- Tip it forward to see if any water pours out the entrance
- Drill a hole in the bottom to drain water out
- Leave the box tilted forward so any water flows to the drain hole
- If the colony is strong hopefully they can repair the hive
If you decide to open the box
- If you open the box, the bees look ok and there’s hardly any water you could pour it out and close the box again.
- If it’s half full of water but the bee colony looks ok, you could pour the water out, break away some of the water logged propolis structure to reduce the amount of work the bees have to do to repair the hive colony, dry out the bottom box as much as possible and then close the box up again.
- If the box is soaked but the colony looks savable, you could transfer the colony to a new dry box. The dry box could help by drawing more moisture out of the wet colony.
- If the box is full of water and the bee colony is dead, then there’s nothing you can do unfortunately.
- Monitor the colony over the next week, even opening the box again to check their progress. If the colony is strong they should be able to repair the hive structures.
Tape the joins – temporarily
Every time you close the box up again make sure you put tape / masking tape around all the joins to help prevent pests entering. Remove the tape a week or so later. The tape can direct rain water in to the box through the joins.
Connect another colony
If the colony is very weak and you think it may not survive, you could connect it to another colony as an eduction. It’s a bit of an odd thing to do, as you’re effectively accepting the colony is dead and you’re just going to create a new colony through eduction/budding, so you’re not really saving the original colony, you’re just taking advantage of having a “pre-prepared eduction box”.
Salvage what’s left
If the colony is dead you can scrape the box out, let it dry in the sun and keep it as a spare box for the future. All the propolis can be washed in a bucket to remove the honey and pollen, then dried in the sun. The dry propolis can be used for your other stingless bee colonies and projects.