Heat, Bees, and BeekeepingJuly 20, 2011
Heat Wave! You know its bad when they warn you 4 days in advance that a heat advisory is coming, but perhaps worse, when the garbage men are on a heat schedule – then it’s hot.
For instance, I made the bee escape. It isn’t super pretty. Scrap plywood and not an equilateral triangle – but I’m hoping the bees won’t have their protractors out. I am also hoping the holes in the hardware cloth are small enough to keep the bees from going back in the box – we’ll see. If not, I have a plan B – another layer of hardware cloth offset a bit – but I didn’t want to limit air flow any more than necessary so I’ll see if this works.
I also stopped at a new store in the area – Big R – K-Mart for the farm family – and they sell scrubs. Hmmm, light weight, washable. One of the aspects of beekeeping that hampers my willingness open the hives is the need for certain clothes. No, you really don’t need a beekeeping outfit like this:
Not that there is anything wrong with it – and if someone gave me one I’d very happily use it – but it is just not in my price range. Anyway, what often happens is I’m down at the bees and thinking of opening the hive, even thinking of walking back to the house to get equipment (before I brought down my handy dandy storage box) when I realize I’m wearing something dark or worse, something with a strong contrast. So not only would I have to go get the equipment, I’d have to change my clothes…. and then the will to open the hive dissipates rapidly.
So back to the scrubs. How about if I had something light colored down in my storage box that I could just slip over whatever I’m wearing – be it shorts or blue jeans, a dark sweatshirt or even (ha) my bathing suit (because I always traipse half naked through my fields and woods to the bee yard with its wild raspberries and nasty poison ivy). So I bought a pair of white pants with a draw string (in a couple of sizes too big so they would fit over everything) and a long sleeved white scrub-jacket – with knit cuffs (a plus for keeping curious bees from climbing up your sleeve on the inside), also on the large side to fit over whatever I happen to be wearing. Ta Da – a beekeeping outfit.
There are the scrubs and my hat with veil, my bee brush and hive tool, and the lavender things on the pants are nitrile gloves. So far no bee has stung my hand while I’ve worn them, and I’m a lot more dexterous than with the heavy leather beekeeping gloves I originally used.
Today I put the bee escape board under a box I want to harvest on the yellow hive. I needed to switch the empty top box (they haven’t gotten to it yet, although there were plenty of bees hanging around in there, so perhaps they are on the verge) and the full box. The full box is dang heavy! (and that’s a good thing) I almost gave up out of fear for my back, but I soldiered on, tightened those abs, took it off, put the empty one on, put the escape board on (boy, I hope I didn’t put it on upside down…) and then hefted the full box back on top. I’ll check tonight or tomorrow morning and see if it worked.
Oh, and the scrubs worked great. I put elastic bands around my ankles to keep wayward bees from entering that way (and to keep from tripping on the too long pants). Yes, it was warm out (heat index about 96) but not unbearable in the scrubs. The hat and veil were hotter. I am pleased – and pleased with myself for my ingenuity (pat pat pat on the back).
Back to the heat.
Not only are people feeling the heat – so are the bees. The last couple of evenings they have been bearding on the outside of the hives. See all the bees on the outside of the hive? It’s too hot for them inside.
The other hive has less bearding – they seem to be hiding under the hive where they have a bit more room than this one. I rather wonder if they have some comb under there…, I saw a bee going under the hive with pollen (we’re talking about a 2 or 3 inch area); maybe this fall I’ll look.
Both hives have upper entrances too, which should help with ventilation. Except I needed to remove it for the yellow hive this morning – another reason to get back to them asap.
Now that I did that bit of beekeeping I think I’m done with outdoor activities today.