ok so its really hot here in North Texas today, i think it was around 103. I walked out this evening and saw my bees in quite significant numbers on the front of the hive. I feel like they are cooling off or keeping the heat from the inside of the hive but im fairly new to this so…
That looks like pretty classic bearding - they are cooling off, as you say. Michael Bush explains it here:
I’m in Dallas and have been experiencing the same bearding the past few nights. The only thing I’m doing is making sure their water source is full (solar fountain).
i lifted the roof off a little bit ago just to make sure i had it all right and the cap with the hole in it was sitting on top of the flow just as it should. my only question is should i take the white plastic board out from the bottom of the hive where the screen is? maybe give it more air flow ?
Very good question. I know you probably won’t believe this, but bees actually ventilate the hive better when that plastic board is left in place. The reason is that they “fan” air through the hive with their wings, directing it in a kind of laminar flow. This ventilation is much more efficient if the hive has mostly intact walls, floor and roof, with a couple of smallish entrances.
If you remove the board, their fanning is basically ineffective, and they have to rely on convection and drafts - not very controllable by the bees.
We often forget that bees evolved for millions of years before humans started making hives. Their preferred homes are tree cavities of about 10 gallon (40 liter) capacity, with a bottom entrance of around 15 square cm, if you believe Thomas Seeley’s research (and you probably should). Trees don’t have screened bottom boards, and the bees still love them. The SBB is really for pest management, and retrieving spilled honey from a Flow harvest. I feel that it isn’t really a good tool for ventilation.
Hope that helps.
Dawn- Thats exactly what I needed and wanted to hear. Thank you so so much?
One more minor thought. The hives that I have with slatted racks tend to beard less than those without. I think the racks give the bees some interior “hangout” space, which isn’t full of food or brood, and they can line up and fan inside if they want to. I am tending towards getting more slatted racks next season. Here are the ones I use with the 8-Frame Flow hive:
Here is a picture of my setup with the rack and the Flow super, but before the bees:
Dawn-A few questions.
1- Where do you in SD do you live?
2- Why did you go with a second brood box?
Not South Dakota. I live in San Diego, CA Point Loma to be exact. We have hives in Point Loma and Valley Center suburbs.
Because everybody in my local Beekeeping Society does that to overwinter successfully. We don’t have problems with cold weather, but we do have a lot of problems with drought leading to a nectar dearth.
Dawn of San Diego
Ok. I have heard of others in my area doing a double brood as well and just wondered if it was necessary.
Thank you for all of your help.
Now that is a really great question… is it necessary? I would say no, not necessary, if you are a commercial beekeeper with hundreds of hives and you can absorb the losses to disease, pests and nectar dearth. However, if you are a hobby beekeeper, it is certainly preferable to think about it, especially if you have a well-defined winter season (cold, rainy/snowy, very few flowers etc).
In the case where you have a definite winter, your bees will do much better with at least 2 boxes, and plenty of honey and pollen stores in those boxes, rather than relying on you to feed them. Having said that, they are your bees, and you have to decide how best to look after them. You will know the circumstances better than anyone else, so you must have the final say on what happens.