Yesterday’s heat and today’s honey harvest

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Our beehive hiding from the sun.
Our beehive hiding from the sun.

Hot weather

Honey bees work as an amazing ‘superorganism’ that maintains the hive as a single working entity. This includes keeping the inside temperature at a warm 35°C, regardless of the outside weather.

Which is fine, except when the outside temperature is at (or greater than) 35°C, at which point having 50,000 bees in a hive tends to make it overheat. In response, the bees “beard”, hanging on the outside of the hive to keep things cool.

Sydney is just at the beginning of a hot few weeks, including a 36°C day yesterday. So to give the hive some extra protection, I leaned up a plywood sheet for shade, as shown in the picture above.

Even so, when I got home at 8:30pm at night, the bees were bearding massively on the outside of the hive. Priscilla also rang me to say that birds were trying to have a drink at the bird bath, but were being driven away by the bees. Apparently it made for quite a sight!

Harvesting honey

Thankfully today was a cooler day, so I took the opportunity to open up the hive.

Lucky I did, as I ended up harvesting two full boxes of honey (16 frames in total). That’s a lot of honey!

With comb in all the other boxes, no wonder the bees were hot: the hive was full. I’ve now added two empty boxes, which should give them a bit more space, helping them to keep cool in the hot weather.

Now to drain out the honey and fill some jars. I think this will easily come to 20L of honey, or more  🙂

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