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The Beehive: Bees know how to adapt to all types of weather conditions

Bees, like humans, sit on the front porch of their homes on warm evenings to cool off. It's called bearding. (Brett Kent / For the Enterprise)

Hello and welcome back to the Beehive. I would like to start out by thanking all the folks that stop by the farmers market on Main street and talk with Brenda and me. I would also like to thank all of you that have such kind words for the articles that we write and the compliments on our honey.

So what is going on in the beehives? Well I have to say, this summer has been the summer of weather extremes.

First, we had such an early spring with great warm temperatures, followed by a month of cooler temperatures. Then the rains came and I was thinking of building floats for my beehives. I'm just kidding.

Now we are in the midst of a long, hot, dry spell. The reason I bring this up is because weather is one of the most important factors in determining how much honey the bees can produce in a given year. We talked about the rain in the last column.

Now I want to mention what happens when it is really hot for an extended period of time. Furthermore, what happens if we end up having a drought?

Well first, let's talk about the heat. If the bees are experiencing extreme heat, by this, I mean more than 93 degrees, the bees have to cool the hive down.

To do this, the bees bring water into the hive and then they line up in strategic places within the hive and they start fanning their wings. The bees move the air throughout the hive, and over the water, which cools the hive. I know what you are thinking, and I have to agree, it is just one more incredible thing these little insects have figured out.

What makes it even more special is that they have to depend on each other to make it work. When the bees are fanning, you can feel the air being moved throughout the hive. The people at Carrier would be proud.

Now what happens if we get a full-blown drought? If the bees experience a drought, the queen will sense this and stop laying eggs. This will cause the hive to use less honey because they will not be raising young bees.

Eventually, the bees will be at the mercy of the Mother Nature. The bees need the rain to keep the plants green and producing flowers. The flowers, in turn, will produce nectar. Without nectar, the bees cannot make honey. Honey is the food the bees depend on to survive. This is where we as beekeepers will step in and feed the bees sugar water, to help our hives survive if a drought were to continue.

I have included a picture of the bees sitting on the front porch of the hive on the warm humid nights. This activity is called bearding. It allows the bees to cool off. The bees are also in ready position to start fanning, if the temperature in the hive gets too hot.

Well, that is enough for now, you folks take care. Thanks again for your interest.