Thursday, 31 December 2015

It's too darn hot

Another 39 C day - yuk.  Summer in Melbourne can be just too darn hot.  While we and the pets spend time inside in front of the fan, the beehive gets at least some of the hot afternoon sun.

Here's what we do to spare the girls some of the heat.

A polystyrene box full of water and foam floats is placed on top of the hive. 

Not only does the box of water insulate the hive by stopping direct sun hitting the lid, it also means the girls don't have to travel far in search of water to cool the hive.

We also lean a sheet of masonite (foraged from a hard waste collection) against the side of the hive to shield it from direct sun. The masonite board is heavy enough to stay put in mild winds, and the hive location itself is sheltered from the wind, so the system works well.

In addition to observing the hive, we weigh it on a regular basis to get an idea of what's going on inside.  It has been interesting to note this year how quickly the weight dropped over the hot days. Some weight loss is not surprising - instead of bringing in nectar, the foragers are out gathering water to use to cool the hive, and they are consuming their stores in order to have the energy to make the flights. What surprises us is why we didn't note a similar weight drop over the extended hot period we had in Melbourne during the summer of 2014.

How do you manage your hives in summer?


  1. Yikes, miserable anytime it gets above 100! What are the “peanuts” for in the water? And, we have never shielded the bees regardless of the heat. We do put square bales around the hives during the winter.

  2. Hi Brian,
    It's not unheard of for beehives to melt in our summer heat and as ours gets a couple of hours of afternoon sun we reckon it's worth trying to shade it. Siting it in a spot where it got morning sun and afternoon shade would be better but our options are limited and we've put it in the only spot in the yard that's out of the way of other activities. Plus it seems the honey stores can drop fairly significantly if the bees are putting all their energy into collecting water to cool the hive so it's worth doing it for that reason too. As for the foam floats - they are for the bees to land on when they come to collect the water.
    We're always interested to hear from other beekeepers - how many hives do you keep, and where are they located?