Friday, July 22, 2011

How Do Bees Keep Cool?

The pond at SteffesWood Apiary
Honey bees keep cool just like the rest of us:  they go swimming!  Well...not exactly. But they do head for water.  That's why beekeepers need to have a good source of water near by (and why honeybees can sometimes become a nuisance at a backyard pool).  We have a small pond at the apiary and on a hot day like today, the bees use it to gather water to take back to the colony.  Once inside, they'll sprinkle the water around and then flap their wings to evaporate it.  It's their form of air conditioning!

Close-up of bees on the stone ledge by the pond.

Bee on a lily pad at the pond.

Bees can quickly get water logged, so they like to hang out on stone ledges or lily pads (or sticks or leaves) where they can easily lap up the water and not drown.

When it's really hot like today, then many of the bees will "beard" on the front of the colony to help keep the temperatures inside cooler.  And how cool is the colony?  About 94 or 95 degrees Fahrenheit--near the temperature of normal human body.  Whether it's below freezing or close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the bees maintain a fairly constant temperature in the hive!
close up of bearding
Bees bearding in front of two hives.

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