Summer heat and your hive

Summer is here!

Your Native Bee Hive may need some help during the hotter periods. Native Bees don’t cope very well when the temperatures get to 40 – 42 degrees c and you could lose your hive completely from over heating.

Things you can do to help keep the hive temperature down:

  • Provide a well insulated hive box – Thick materials
  • Provide a well insulated roof over the box – Thick materials with an air flow gap between the roof and box
  • Build a shade structure over the box – Tin roof higher up to reduce radiating heat, shade cloth, a pergola type structure, use tree shade
  • Allow air flow around the box – Avoid positions like patio corners where there’s no air flow
  • Avoid hot areas or positions for the box – areas that create radiating heat mass when exposed to sun like brick walls, concrete slabs, pavers etc

Extreme measures:

  • Move the hive indoors – Block up the hive entrance the night before and take indoors to air conditioning (use mesh or a screen to block the entrance to allow air flow but stop the bees leaving)
  • Use a fan to cool the hive box
  • Place a bucket full of ice on the hive box – cooling the hive, not freezing it
  • Place a wet towel over the hive box

Some of these suggestions might sound crazy and are rarely needed, but when the temperatures are getting up there you’ll be starting to worry about losing your precious bee hive and it may only be necessary to do this for one day in a year or if there’s a heat wave in your area.

I placed these two empty boxes in the afternoon sun and did some very basic checks. These boxes are both 35mm thick Cypress. The yellow box hardly raised in temperature over 30 minutes where as the dark stained timber raised two degrees. It was noticeably hotter to touch on the outside. For any dark coloured hives I’d suggest they stay out of the sun.