Heat wave affecting bees

I live in New England and the climate has been quite nice up until today (and tomorrow/thursday) when we will be in our first real heat wave of the year. It is at it’s height today at 89 degrees now and tomorrow and Thursday it will be in the mid-90s, truly unbearable for everyone at the farm, animals included. I just added bees only a month ago from a nuc bought at a local farm, they were not shipped up from the south. They’ve enjoyed relatively mild weather up until today.

I have noticed during the days it was in the mid-70s that there’d be several bees outside of the hive and when I looked it up they said it was due to keeping the inside of the hive cooler. I thought it was cool and thought nothing of it. But, right now the whole front of my hive is covered in bees and they are hanging off the bottom of the hive.

My questions are:

  • am I at risk of the queen leaving the hive and my bees swarming etc.?
  • is there something I can do to alleviate this heat for them right now, especially as it will be worse for the next 2 days?

I appreciate your help in advance! I will jump outside and snap a pic shortly in case one is needed!

That sounds like bearding, and I would highly recommend a slatted rack underneath the brood box. I have them for all of my hives, and I believe that @Eva in Pennsylvania does too. They help a lot with ventilation and “hang out” space for idle bees. Mann Lake sells them if you are looking for a source, but make sure that you get the right size - they come in 8 and 10 frame Langstroth sizes. Great invention that has been around for over a century, and I have had no bearding in the heights of summer in SoCal since I installed them.


I would also make sure that there is a water source about 20 ft from the hive (much closer and they may ignore it) and perhaps consider a shade sail or parasol if they are in direct sun all day


Hi mattimoe - I agree with Dawn that the heat is the most likely reason you’re seeing such a beard :grin:
It is certainly possible your bees could be getting ready to swarm, but you’d need to inspect to really know. Meanwhile, try to provide the helpful bits of equipment @Dawn_SD mentioned, and I would add making sure your hive bodies esp the roof/outer cover are painted white or a light color. Many folks with Flow hives like to do a natural finish on them but this tends to absorb heat. I’ve painted all mine except for the honey supers. And yes I use slatted racks and love them for many reasons!


90 degree is hot but not that hot. Bees will beard but that is normal heat control. Don’t fuss too much, try putting some shadecloth over the hive to cut the effect of the sun. They will settle down when the temperature drops.


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