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How do Bees Handle the Heat in the Summer?

June 06, 2023 2 min read

Bees are well-adapted to handle summer temperatures and have evolved mechanisms to regulate their body temperature. While they may experience some discomfort during hot weather, they have developed various strategies to cope with high temperatures.

Bees cool their hive by fanning their wings and circulating air throughout, which helps maintain a stable temperature. They also collect water and distribute it within the hive to regulate humidity. Some bees, known as "water collector bees," are specifically tasked with gathering water to bring back to the hive.
Bees may also cluster outside the hive in extreme heat, creating a living air-conditioning system by fanning their wings and generating airflow. This helps cool the inside of the hive. Additionally, bees can reduce their activity during the hottest part of the day to conserve energy and minimize overheating.
Regarding honey, high temperatures can indeed have an impact.

Honey has a relatively low moisture content, typically around 17-20%, which makes it less prone to spoilage. However, excessive heat can change the honey's composition and quality. High temperatures can cause honey to darken, lose some of its aroma and flavor, and potentially degrade certain enzymes and antioxidants present in the honey. If honey is exposed to prolonged high temperatures, it can also undergo a process called crystallization, where it becomes thicker and grainy. While crystallization is a natural and reversible process, some people prefer their honey in a liquid state.

Beekeepers take measures to protect honey from extreme heat by storing it in cool and dark locations. They may also use techniques such as proper ventilation in the honey storage area or air conditioning to maintain optimal conditions.
It's important to note that while bees have adapted to handle the heat, they can still face challenges in certain situations. Heatwaves and prolonged periods of extreme heat can stress bee colonies, especially if they coincide with other factors like limited water sources or poor foraging conditions. Therefore, beekeepers play a crucial role in providing adequate shade, water, and management practices to support the well-being of their bees during hot weather.

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