Can the bee hive get too hot?
by Mary Aldrich
At the start of summer I saw the bees milling about on the front of the hive. Now they are more then one layer deep hanging out on the entire front of the hive and kind of dripping off the bottom.
That's common behavior for bees in the heat of the summertime. They do that for 2 reasons:
1) Removing the body heat of all those bees from the interior of the hive helps them to keep the interior of the hive at the proper temperature.
2) In some locales (including mine) there's not much nectar available for foraging during the hottest part of the summer - especially during severe droughts as we're currently having in Texas. So there are lots of bees with little to do.
Instead of lounging around inside the hive adding to the congestion, all of those temporarily UNbusy bees hang around on the outside.
You ask if it's possible for the beehive to get too hot, and the answer is yes. But, it's really very rare, and I doubt that it gets hot enough in your climate for that to happen.
You may already know, but bees are amazingly efficient at cooling their hives. They distribute water droplets throughout the interior of the hive, and by fanning their wings, circulate air throughout the hive.
The air flowing over the water droplets evaporates the water, and the air is cooled through the process of evaporative cooling.
The bees actually air condition their hive!
You can help the bees cool their hive by adding an upper entrance during the heat of the summer. (You may already have one - couldn't tell for sure in the photo).
An upper entrance makes it easier for the bees to circulate fresh air freely throughout the hive, and allows some of the warmth building up inside the hive to escape since warmer air always rises.
The upper entrance will also help to reduce congestion in the brood nest, since foragers will be able to come and go from the upper entrance. That way they don't have to enter at the bottom of the hive and make their way through the brood nest up to where the honey is being stored.
An easy way to add an upper entrance is to just stagger the super above the brood nest, as in the photo below.
Hope this helps!
P.S. That's a nice looking hive. Are you going to have a honey crop this year?