Yes, we are here!

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we have been educating folks about the benefits of self-reliance for 50 years. That includes researching and sourcing the best books and products to help individuals master the skills they need in times like these and beyond. Our online store is open and we are here to answer any questions you might have. Our customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 8a.m.-5p.m. CDT. We can be reached at 1-800-234-3368 or by email. Stay safe!

Keep Summer Bees Cool

| 6/1/2011 2:54:30 PM

When it’s hot in summertime a full size colony of bees will use a lot of water…a lot more than you think. At a minimum they’ll use a quart a day. Maximum, a gallon a day. For every colony you have. Think of how much that is for 10 colonies for a week of hot, hot weather. At the very least, that’s 10 quarts a day, for seven days…70 quarts…nearly 20 gallons of water, minimum if you allow for some of that water to evaporate naturally. When large colonies start collecting a gallon a day, you have 70 gallons you have to have available…that’s more than a 55 gallon honey drum plumb full in just a week.

And they will get that water somewhere. The closer that water is the better, of course. The easier the better. The safer the better. You do supply all the water your bees need, right? If you’re lucky you have a nearby spring, river, lake or pond. Lakes and rivers are great if there’s not a lot of people traffic nearby, wading, fishing, or boating. But smaller bodies of water…puddles, creeks and ponds can be problematic during hot summers because they tend to go dry, right about the time the bees need them most. Keeping an ample supply of fresh water just for your bees is a no-brainer that we far too often overlook. So first, make that happen. How? Good question.

If you don’t have that pond, consider making one near your bees if possible. A small, continuously filled fish pond is ideal. Installing an automatic filler is necessary, and being able to disconnect it in the winter is also necessary, but it’s a good first choice. But, if that’s not in the cards…if you are on a roof for instance, a smaller version of this is possible, that is, a self-filling livestock watering device can work and is a good idea. They don’t go dry because a float valve turns on when the water level falls below a preset point and refills the water holder (just like the pond). Of course you have to have a dedicated water line to that device…and a flexible hose doesn’t work as well as a ridged pvc pipe, so there’s that hitch to get over, but it’s possible.A watering tank for your bees that automatically fills itself when the water level falls 

A slow drip faucet works, but remember…a gallon a day per hive…it better not be too slow. Pails, pools, stock tanks, barrels…anything that holds enough water works. But the smaller the container, the more you have to fill it the more likely it will go dry on just the day the bees need it most. And once dry, they go somewhere else…bird baths, swimming pools, pet bowls, air conditioner drains…lots of places you don’t want a bunch of bees. Bees need water and will get it somewhere. You wouldn’t think of letting your dog, cat, chickens or other animals go without water…why your bees?

Then, ventilation inside the hive. Screened bottom boards have taken a roller coaster ride in popularity during the past few years because of their role, or no role in Varroa IPM, but for ventilation Varroa plays no role at all. More than 120 years ago, A. I. Root suggested, and then made for sale screened bottom boards for his hives expressly for better ventilation. He used window mesh screen because he wasn’t worried about Varroa or other creatures, he just wanted fresh air inside.

Langstroth was insistent on having fresh air inside his hives and made certain there were many and large openings for air to go bottom to top and escape rapidly. For your bees, use screened bottom boards in the summer, and make sure there is escape above for all that warm, moist air to rise and release. If you use inner covers or crown boards raise them up so air can move up even faster than simply through the ventilation holes provided. Lift up the cover, too, for better air movement. The bees will guard the cracks and crevices you create, and you can always reduce them if you think robbing might be a problem…and it might if it is so hot that the plants have quit producing and scout bees find a weak hive to plunder.

carol feyen
6/2/2011 7:39:34 AM

you mentioned a 'learning curve' using the top bar hives. Just wondering if you find them more difficult to manage than the langstroh (sp?)hives. I am looking into building the Kenya style top bar hive. So far, what I have read indicated there is less management of these hives than the other. Are you using the Warre style or horizontal tbh? carol

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me