Summertime is an exciting season but also very challenging for all the beekeepers. For the bees, summer is a busy time as well. As all plants bloom, the nectar reaches its peak. When that happens, bees are working tirelessly to collect pollen and gather the nectar, followed by intensive honey production.
It is important to create a summer hive checklist and closely monitor activities that need to be done in order for the hives to be protected against the hot weather.
In this article, we will go into further details on what are the best beekeeping practices that a beekeeper can apply during summer.
Best beekeeping practices to keep the hives fresh & cool
“Summertime and the livin’ is easy”, says Ella Fitzgerald in one of her many famous songs. It is indeed a peak season for blooming, buzzing and honey collecting. The biggest challenge during summer is handling the hot temperatures, by retreating in the mountains or at the seaside. When it comes to beekeeping, it is much more complex to protect the bees against the summer heat. For that matter, beekeepers should follow up these practices that will help their hives get through summer successfully.
Inspection of the hives
It is recommended during summer to visit your bee hives and open them for an inspection, every three weeks. You should wait for the hottest part of the day to pass and afterwards you can inspect the hive or you can do it early in the morning, before the bees get active. During the inspection, you have to make sure that the queen is laying well and to detect varroa mite infestations. Also, keep an eye on pest signs or disease and add honey supers if needed. Although there is little chance of swarming during late summer, it is important to do some swarm-control. When doing all these activities, it is best to take notes so you can use them for comparison next time you check.
We’ve emphasized that bees do a great job with managing their hives’ temperature by themselves. However, if temperatures become too high, the process of manual ventilation will help the air circulate more freely inside the hive. If you suspect your hives of overheating, you should drill one or two small holes in the top super, to improve ventilation. By doing that, the heat trapped inside will be released and the hives will become cooler.
For an extra airflow, you can make use of vented bottom boards. These forms of ventilation will allow more air to get in the hive, while also keeping at bay the mice and other insects.
You can consider opting for a screened inner cover and replace the regular one during the warm months. The screen efficiently lets the warm air out of the hive and keeps away most pests and predators.
These ventilation practices will help the bees save their energy when fanning the air.
It’s also important to ensure that the smell of honey doesn’t stimulate other bees or insects to invade the hive and steal the stored honey.
One of the important aspects you need to take into consideration is the location of your hives. When you decide the location for your honey bees’ home, choose an area that can provide some shade during the summer, so they can be protected from overheating.
The color of the hives is also important. If they have dark colors, the heat will be absorbed, while pale colors or even white will reflect sun rays. So, you could choose to paint your hives a light color and place them under some shade.
If you have difficulties in moving your hives to an area with some shade, you can rely on other efficient options. You could ease the heat in your hives by organizing a shade tent or simply add an umbrella. Follow the weather forecast and be ready to handle the heat, using these creative options.
Stay tuned for our Part II of the article, to discover many more practices for this season. If you found this article interesting, please share it on social media and you are always welcome to comment below.