Kind of a spooky dawn this morning. The haze has created this effect I suppose. The only green in our landscape is the genetically modified crops but even they are beginning to curl up in the heat of the day.
When bees encounter very high temperatures they use a number of systems to cool the hive. They like to keep the hive at a temperature of 90-95 (32-35C) all year round. Normally they regulate the temperature by fanning in the summer or huddling in the winter. When the temperatures are in excess of 100F then they order extra water collection. In fact many honey collectors will be sent for water instead. The collected droplets are laid in a line just inside the entrance to the hive and rotating squadrons of bees are sent out to fan air across the water line, with another set of bees inside fanning the cooler air up into the hive.
If you put your ear to the hive wall you will hear the noise of thousands of wings, it sounds like the roar of a small motor revved to the max. If it is still too hot many of the bees will crawl right out of the hive and loiter about at the entrance, freeing up space in the hive for the air to flow to the brood. This causes overcrowding at the nightclub doors, and they get in the way of the fanners, so the bouncers send the crowd out into the street and up the walls to cool off. Creating a thick gathering of buzzing bees on the outside of the hive. This is called bearding. Bearding is common in the heat. Bearding has nothing to do with swarming.
To help the over heating hive I need to make sure there is plenty of water around, and that the hive is vented with my stick at the top. The rest I leave to the bees. And hope the temperatures drop soon.
When I have the vents open they order extra guard bees to make sure there are no intruders.
One of my hives has a heaving mass who hangs out on the shaded side of the hive, the wall is thick with them. They are bearding normally. The other hive has a scattering of bees all over it and they are all facing downwards. I did not notice how they were arranged until I processed the image.
This can mean that there has been a mutiny and a large portion of the hive is considering doing a runner. These girls have been sent outside to wait. They are the rabble in the streets waiting for the order. They might be going to swarm due to overcrowding. I am sure the heat contributes to this. So this hive will have to be inspected today. Which is pretty mean as the fanners and the droplet collectors will have regulated the temperature in the hive and when I open it up I am going to disrupt all their hard work and let the hot air in.
Good morning. My weather man tells me that we have one more day of this heavy hot weather. Let’s hope so. The prolonged high temperatures are beginning to wear on the animals. The Baby Bobby Blanc is being fed extra water through-out the day as he has become unusually lethargic. The Big Dog who is quite old has become very hobbly and wobbly on his feet and is not eating very much and Queenie had to be prodded and scared up yesterday evening after lying down all day. Her mouth is open, panting and she is dribbling saliva. I mist her with the hose during the day and I did get her to move out into a new field last night with the others. But I had to point the lemon grass fly spray at her to make her move to the water trough. She hates the fly spray. Why that cow is having trouble in the heat I do not know. The others are fine. Daisy as you know is giving more milk than ever. But losing weight. We are all losing weight.
One of the big pigs is having the same trouble but he will lie under the sprinkler cooling off. So he is a bit easier to manage. Once again though they are not keeping up with their feed. The only ones thriving in the heat are the chickens as they go around cleaning up everyone else’s uneaten expensive grain and hanging out under the pigs sprinklers, ruffling their feathers and chatting.
No-one eats in the day time when it is this hot. All the smaller animals and birds are getting extra milk and eggs to compensate. The sheep and cows are being fed alfalfa in the shade.
So today will be another day of gathering water and fanning for the bees and laying under the trees for the large animals and dragging hoses for me. We are managing so far though, our systems are working. One more day.
I hope you all find something lovely today. Whether you are cool or hot.