Keep Summer Bees Cool


 A watering tank for your bees that automatically fills itself when the water level falls

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, or 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.

How to Provide Beehives with Water

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.

Build a pond. 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 little afternoon shade especially later in the summer is not all bad

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

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