Recently we had an article on how bees can survive the cold weather and the usual way they go about it.
Bees have a way of preparing for almost any eventuality and will ensure the colony survives.
Today we will be discussing how bees survive extremely hot periods and what temperature they can tolerate. Like humans bees also have the ability to adapt to hot temperatures.
The bees control the temperature in the hive, however when the hive temperature rises above 100°F, they might begin to have overheating problems and they will start various activities like bearding to regulate the hive temperature.
In this article we will explore how bees regulate hive temperature, what temperature is too hot for bees and your role as a beekeeper during extremely hot seasons
Do Bees Die From Heat?
Bees can die from heat if the temperature gets too hot. Of utmost concern to honeybees are the queen and the brood.
If it gets too hot, the queen will stop laying eggs, the brood will get too hot and the honey combs will start melting away.
This can cause widespread death in the colony and when the bees are weak they are easily susceptible to diseases and pests.
However the bees usually have a way of surviving and when the temperature gets too hot, the bees can calm the inside of the hives with water.
At this point all forager bees will leave collecting food and go in search of water.
The water will be transferred to the house bees who place the water on the honey cells and then fan it with their wings. The water evaporates and cools the air in the hive.
This helps the queen and the brood stay at a relatively average temperature that will not harm them.
Related: Here is an article I wrote on can bees change color?
What Temperature Will Kill Bees?
Bees do not do well in extreme weather conditions both hot or cold.
In the onset of weather once the temperature starts dropping below 55°F, the bees reduce their foraging trips and begin to prepare for winter clusters.
A bee caught outside at temperatures below 41°F will most likely die of hypothermia as its wings and muscles will freeze rendering it unable to fly.
Likewise, in extremely hot climates where temperatures can go as high as 115°F, the bees’ honeycombs will start melting and the brood and even the adult bees will start dying.
Do Bees Overheat?
Although bees are tolerant of hot temperatures and will even control the temperature of their hive to a certain amount they can get overheated.
Bee overheating can occur if the bees do not have access to water in hot weather and they are restricted to the hive.
Overheating mainly happens when a hive is being moved in hot weather and the bees are unable to fly about.
Because of these confinement, the bees are unable to regulate the temperature of the hive. They are overcrowded and do not have access to water to cool down the combs.
Bees can also overheat when there is intense heat from the sun and the bee hive is not in shade.
High humidity levels also regularly contribute to overheating in a beehive.
As a beekeeper you can recognize overheated bees by their rapid crawl and fluttering wings.
Once temperatures are above 100°F, check on your hive regularly to ensure they are not overheated.
How Hot Is Too Hot For a Bee Hive?
The worker bees usually work to keep the beehive temperature at 95°F. This is the perfect temperature for the hive and most especially the brood.
If it’s too cold, the bees will have a chilled brood and when it gets too hot, the queen will stop laying eggs and the honey will melt from the combs.
Once the temperature gets higher than 100°F, the inhouse worker bees will start working on how to regulate the hive temperature and that includes collecting water from the foragers, placing them on the honeycomb cells and fanning their wings till the air in the hive is cooled down.
What Do Bees Do When They Get Too Hot
Once the beehive gets too hot, the first order of business is ensuring every forager bee stops collecting food and goes out to source for water.
Once the bees bring back the water, the house places drops of the water on each cell and then blows it down to evaporate it.
The worker bees can also stand at the entrance of the hive and fan their wings till they perceive the hive temperature has cooled.
Just like a fan would dispel heat in a room or office, the worker bees will keep on fanning till they are satisfied.
Another common method employed by the bees to cool the hive is bearding.
Bearding happens when the bees who are not directly involved in caring for the queen and the brood, leave the high for a short period of time.
This helps regulate the ventilation in the hive and the process of the bees clustering together near the hive is called bearding as it resembles a man’s beard.
Through these means, the bees are able to combat overheating and ensure the colony stays fine during hot periods.
What Temperature Do Bees Stop Flying?
Once the weather starts dropping below 55° the bees will reduce their flying and foraging trips as their body will no longer be able to regulate the temperature.
The muscles will easily get tired and will not be able to operate at its minimum body temperature.
As a matter of fact, if the weather drops lower, the bees will remain in their hives and form a winter cluster to protect the queen and the brood.
The cluster serves to keep the hive warm at the required temperature of 95°F.
This clustering system helps the bees to survive winter or else they would be dead in their hives from cold. Even with this not all the bees in a hive survive winter.
Can Bees Fly In 90 Degree Weather?
Bees are usually eager and active to work once the weather is 55°F. As the temperature rises the bees are seen out and about collecting nectar and pollen.
Between 55°F-100°F, bees are very eager and willing to work. It is very normal to see bees flying in 90 degree weather.
Even if the weather is hot, bees will still be able to fly through the process of body thermoregulation which gives their body a heat balance during flights.
As such they can still go out to forage for food and water for the hive
How Do Bees Cool Down?
Once individual bees get sufficiently hot enough they buzz off to pools or any close water source to take a sip and cool down.
This helps to bring down the bee’s body temperature and when the bee has taken enough water it can go back to its foraging activities.
Individual bees can also be beneficial to cooling their hives when the temperature gets too hot.
The forager bees transfer water to the house bees by regorging water which their mates take and use in cooling down the hive.
Beekeepers can make it easier for the bees during the hot seasons by providing water sources closeby.
We have learnt that not only can bees survive during the cold periods, they can also handle themselves during extremely hot weather.
This is quite fascinating and intriguing to learn from these little creatures.
As a beekeeper during the hot periods ensure you check on your bees to see they are not overheating.
Put their hive in shade, avoid metal rooftops for the hives as it will only conduct heat into the hive and keep water sources close to the hive.
Doing this will ensure the colony is not weakened by heat and your honey quality is not decreased.