Confessions of a novice beekeeper – Part 9, it’s getting hot in here!

If you’ve read my previous bee blog post about water here, you’d remember that Perth is now, finally, entering our long and hot summer. With temperatures hitting the high 30’s (centigrade) we’ve increasingly noticed the bees “bearding” outside the hive, around the entrance which is in the shade.

Bee’s are industrious and ingenious little buggers and they work as a colony to maintain the interior temperature of the hive at 35OC.

In winter they will cluster together in the centre of the hive to create and hold warmth. And in summer, they’ll exit the hive to create more airflow. They’ll even act like little evaporative air-conditioners, with bees collecting water and then fanning their wings furiously to waft the cooler, humid air through the hive.

Unfortunately, our hive isn’t in the ideal summer position. It receives the full and hot sun when the sun is directly overhead, through until later afternoon. Both the hive roof and left (Western) side, when looking from the back/flow frame collecting side, are exposed to the hot sun for long periods of the day.

The bees bearding on the shaded side of the hive, above the entrance

An obvious solution would be to install some shade, either via plants, which would take some time to establish and wouldn’t really work in our backyard configuration, or artificial screening using boards or shade cloth. Whilst, artificial shading would be easy enough to arrange, I didn’t really want to view the large screens from our deck area. So, rather than use these options, I’ve decided for now to install reflective and insulative barriers to the roof and left side using some Corflute and polystyrene.

See below pics for the roof and side insulation panel which I’ve attached to the hive. I was intending to insert a small air gap between the panels and the hive, however, decided against it in the end as I expect the bees would find and then utilise this gap for building out honeycomb. That’d be outside of the hive and not what I want.

The hive with an insulated roof and western side
The hive with an insulated roof and western side

Summer is still a couple of days away from officially starting, so we’ll need to keep an eye on the hive to see if the insulation panels do the trick. If not and we need to do more then I’ll install some shade screen to block the hot afternoon sun.

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