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  • Writer's pictureCJ Turner

Beeing Cool: 3 Ways Honey Bees Deal With Extreme Heat

With the recent heat waves on the East Coast and Pacific Northwest, some beekeepers are panicking about how their bees are faring with the heat. Luckily, years of evolution have given the bees skills to keep their hive nice and cool during the heat of the summer. And while bees have been known to tolerate temperatures of up to 122F, they still need to maintain their brood temperature at around 89.6F. Therefore, they have developed some behaviors that can keep their hive at the perfect temperature to keep thriving. The following are examples of these behaviors.

Bees bearding outside of a hive


Many beekeepers observe this behavior and think their bees are preparing to swarm or abscond. However, this is just the bees taking a break from the heat in the hive by hanging outside of it. It is not uncommon to see hundreds of bees just "chilling" outside the hive cooling off. So if you see this behavior, and it is a hot day, take a break and relax. Your bees are doing exactly what their biology has taught them to do.

A honey bee taking a quick water break.

Carrying Water Back to Their Hives

One of the more fantastic ways bees keep their hives cool is by bringing

back water in their stomachs to spray other honey bees to keep them cool. Remarkably, individual bees will be tasked to bring back water for the rest of the hive. Without water, the temperature in the hive will surely rise, and new brood are put at risk of overheating and dehydrating. Therefore, it is essential to have a water source nearby so that bees have easy access to it.

Fanning Their Wings

Another way bees keep their hive cool is by sending some bees to the hive entrance where they can fan their wings. Not only does this help regulate the temperature of the hive, but it also can help with hive humidity. They will It really is quite the sight to see.

Bees fanning their wings at the entrance of a hive.

So do not fret if you see more bees outside your hive than usual on a particularly hot day, and make sure you have plenty of water for your bees nearby. There are other ways for you to personally cool off your hives i.e; providing shade and taking the metal cover off of your hive. So keep an eye out for excessive heat in your area, and remember to "keep your bees" by providing them all of the resources and support they need.

Happy Beekeeping!

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