Keeping your bees safe in summer

While bees generally like to keep the temperature of their hive nice and warm (between 32 and 35 degrees Celsius, to be exact) – summer in Australia can get hot and extreme heat can cause hives to overheat, leading to the failure of a hive. To ensure your bees stay safe over the next few months, we’ve listed our top tips for keeping your bees safe in summer:

1. Provide a water source

Like us, bees need water to stay hydrated. Water also allows bees to help regulate their hive to ensure it stays at the optimal temperature. Ensuring bees have easy access to water is essential in summer. You have to be mindful that the water source is safe for bees to access, as they are prone to drowning.

Suitable sources of water can include:

  • A simple bucket or shallow dish of water – to prevent bees from drowning, place floating materials in your water source to act as a haven for the bees. Items such as corks and sticks are a good solution.
  • Pond water – bees love to drink ‘dirty’ water and will choose this over clean, fresh water any day of the week. So a pond that has become murky with algae would be their drink of choice.
  • Trickling fountain – bees like trickling water because they’re less likely to drown. Be sure to ensure that the water current isn’t too strong.
Bee in pond water

2. Provide shade

Generally, hives should be in the shade during summer and in full sun during winter. If you cannot provide your hive with shade in summer (i.e. by a tree), you can place a cover on top of the hive lid. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a lid designed especially for your hive; you can also use items such as spare pieces of timber, sheets or a car window protector. Painting your hive white or another light colour is another great option for hives in warmer climates, as lighter colours reflect heat and light.

White bee hive

3. Ventilate your hive

While this may not be relevant to all hives – if you live in a region that experiences extreme heat, ensuring your hive has installed ventilation is ideal. The Flow Hive 2+ have ventilation built into its base, making it a perfect hive for hot regions. We use this Flow Hive at Ian’s farm in Victoria’s North, where the summer temperature can soar.

Flow Hive 2+ with ventilation at the base

4. Regulate inspections

Don’t open your hive and perform an inspection during the hottest time of the day. Bees expel hot air through the hive entrance by circulating evaporated water. Lifting hive lids or skewing hive boxes sideways to allow more air into the hive will upset this process and allow the entry of more hot air. Opening hives for routine management should be postponed on days of extreme heat.

Don't inspect bees at the hottest time of the day

We highly recommend enrolling in an online course if you’re unsure whether you’re following the best beekeeping practices. Flow has an incredible online course we’ve completed ourselves, and we couldn’t recommend it more highly. They also offer a free trial to allow you to see if the course is for you. Click here to learn more about Flow’s online course and products.