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Overheating Bees!


Hi Guys, today it was 34 degreesin Brisbane and 39 degrees is expected tommorow! Today I saw more than usrual bees dead outside the hive with a few twitching/dying. They died with their tongues out and I was wondering if this was because of dehydration, I saw a few bees at the entrance facing out and fanning their wings… Is this to move cool air inside the hive?
I have a metal lid, someone suggested painting it white… Do you think this will help?!

The vents in the lid were filled with propolis, so I have gone and unclogged them hopefully helping with more ventilation🤔



Hiya Ollie, the galvinized lid does get hot, perhaps get a new lid, insulate and paint then fit when dry. Meantime you can get a piece of wood, coreflute or similar and put it on top of the hive. I use a couple of bits of wood between to keep an air gap for insulation. :wink:
Regarding ventilation in the hive, yes the bees fan to create an airflow through the hive, its also putting pheromones out for returning bees I believe… As for clearing the vents, theres a saying ‘My bees are doing just fine despite my efforts to help.’ If they need ventilation they would clear the propolis themselves.
Are there honey stores in the hive? Any signs of robbing?


Yes there are honey stores… I have a honey super, no there is no robbing signs.
Why would the bees be dying with their tongues out?
They die on the landing, kind in an action pose. They just stand still and don’t move then die​:thinking::grimacing:

Also can you please elaborate on what you mean by insulation in the lid of your hives? The metal on top of my hive isn’t fixed, I just place it on top…


Sorry to read of bee deaths, the recent heat, I would think. It would certainly put the bees under stress. Just keep a water supply at the hive for them.

That is what they are doing, lowering the internal hive temperature.

It will help to reduce the heat being absorbed into the lid, especially when the metal on the lid ages, and rusts. I paint my lids with 3 heavy coats of white paint as it cops the worst of the elements and conditions.
I recently put a thermometer under the hive lid, it records the maximum temp which was 7C hotter than a thermometer on the shady side outside of the hive. Do all you can to give your bees a cooler home and it will give you a better honey yield.


That’s a good point @Peter48, I might try the old paint method​:ok_hand:t3::grin:


Hi Ollie as @skeggley says get another lid and paint it. We carry a few lids so when we do an inspection we swap lids and queen excluder so we can clean them away from the hive. We also have multiple vinyl mats with one fitted on top of the super. Makes simple to remove any honey comb just shake off the bees take off the mat and lid and replace with another. Less time with the hive open. @JeffH gave us that advice and it works a treat. If they are building in the lid time to think about a split.
All our vents are closed off also.
Good luck.


Cooler than what Peter?
I’d imagine the brood box would be fairly insulated from overhead sun by a super. Provided the wax doesn’t melt surely more warmth in the super will aid in moisture removal from the bees vomit, errr honey which would also humidify the air thus causing evaporative cooling.
Will bees use more food cooling the hive? They do heating it and I think this is Petes point and I agree to a degree but i wouldn’t be putting ice in there, or a fan :thinking: for that matter. :sunglasses:
Yeah i reckon give them some help in direct sun but they generally do a pretty good job themselves without.

I rarely see dead bees on the ground around my hives, but there would be hundreds dying each day from each colony so unless you have a layer or two of dead bees on the bottom board I wouldn’t be too concerned.
Most dead bees I find have their tongues out.


That and the twitching are typical of insecticide poisoning. Could anyone around you have been spraying recently? I would think insecticide rather than heat, but you would know when it is cool enough to open the hive - if the wax comb has slumped, then the hive got very hot inside. :thinking:


Cooler than ambient heat wave temperatures Skeggley. Maybe in your location your hives are not subjected to heatwaves and half of the bees collecting water to cool the hive by fanning. If the entrance has a heap of bees fanning air into the hive I think it reasonable to assume that the bees want to cool what they find as a hive that is too hot for their comfort.
Putting ice into a hive isn’t worth thinking about, from my research on the subject of a fan assisted air flow in heatwaves I am prepared to experiment, if it does’t work then I am down $120 and at least have learnt something and I would accept that result, If it benefits the bees then again I would have an answer.


I’m in Perth Peter so no we don’t have heat waves its just bloody hot all the time.:sunglasses:


This investigation into hive ventilation may be of interest:


Interesting article Adam, thank you for posting it.


We had over 40C today. I soaked some thick bathroom mats and towels in water and put them over the roofs of some nucs and hives in direct sun.
Was particularly worried about the nucs that are building fresh comb right now.
All is good. The mats are so thick, they were still moist tonight when I took them off and the roofs/lids feel cool to the touch.
41C doesn’t seem to worry the colonies a lot. They were in and out and pretty merry, must have found a new nectar source.
Was looking forward to the dearth to get a break. No such luck, some eucalyptus just started flowering apparently. The colonies started putting on a lot of weight again.


Oh how terrible for you…


With apologies to the Australian bush poet John O’Brien

“If we don’t get some blossom, man,
And soon to break this dearth,
We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”

No honey for Wilfred this year I fear.
The two hives I have are “holding”. A weak one still has outside frames empty and not touched and I have commenced feeding this one. The strong hive is strong but has used all the honey left in the flow super. A few paddock weeds all the flower I see.
In a normal year I would have taken 20 plus kilos by now. Very strange for the Marri, as it is just so damn reliable year in year out.


I hear you- all of my hives are just surviving- none are putting on honey weight. I have been feeding the ones with empty outer combs. I am now considering some type of pollen replacement as I think a lack of pollen has been a part of this bad year. You see it going in- but not the steady streams you want to see. This has been my worst year as a beekeeper to date- this time last year I had over 140 KG’s of honey- so far this season I think I have harvested maybe 10 kg’s. Only a few months left and it look doubtful for any sudden turnaround. Two flow hives with 100% empty supers on them…

weirdly coastal hives in Adelaide have bucked the trend- you’d think a coastal hive would be limited as the bee forage zone is effectively halved- but my mum’s hive is doing well- though down on previous years it has still been harvested multiple times: one flow box and two ideals of valuable cut-comb.


What will you use as pollen replacement? Have been thinking about it last winter, but then the bees found some in time.
Still on wait and watch duty here, wondering if some major flow is starting. All my supers are full for dearth and winter, no room for any nectar.
My traditional hives have 2 to 3 full supers on, ready for extracting. Have to figure out how this spinner works and where to store the honey. Plastic buckets, stainless steel?
I’m in a lot of trouble. Apparently my bee lab wasn’t built to house that much honey in glass jars and there are concerns there is too much weight in there already.
Honey is a side effect of beekeeping, if you want it or not. I think here it was a really good honey season.
Wish somebody would buy it off me and I can buy a new microscope and gear for pollen analysis from the honey money.
Or one of those NMR devices :space_invader:


Good food grade plastic buckets are the go when you end with too much honey. It’s a problem I’d like to have. Jealous. I’m down to my last 10kgs!

Honey sells itself if you put in a tiny bit of effort. I could sell all your honey easily.

Send it to me


I hear ya Jack, I’ve orders piling up as jars have been returned with payment in advance to secure the next batch. My last harvest was to make room for the marri flow… Apparently it was my bees best yet…
Just starting to build a customer base and I can’t supply. :flushed: Fortunately, during my bee rant when selling, I stress the small batch local seasonality of my product as a selling point which is usually taken on board. Limited edition. :sunglasses:
I extract into 10L FG buckets and pour into jars as required.
I’m still hoping for a late flow. :sun_with_face:


Sending the honey and honeycomb somewhere with honey shortage is an option, seeing that a lot of Australia ran short this season due to drought and super heat.
We missed out on the rainy season so far, so the bees had more time out foraging.
Haven’t added up my harvest records yet, but I’m certain some hives produced above 100kg. Nobody told me that can happen.
Out of panic I put extra supers on top of the flow supers when we had to go away for a couple of weeks, even though I expected our local summer dearth to kick in. All full on return.
Now to deal with this sweet abundance.