Onsite apiary struggles during the summer heatwave

Onsite apiary struggles during the summer heatwave

The bees at our onsite apiary had a good start to the year, with the early spring bringing plenty of nectar which increased bee numbers significantly and helped produce a good amount of honey.

The apiary is managed by Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers Association. , located at the top of our Newlands site, houses up to 800,000 bees during the summer months, with the insects pollinating flowering plants from all of our local sites.

The heatwave meant that many flowering plants flowered early and for a shorter period than usual; the bees also used a lot of energy to keep the hives cool they do this by fanning their wings and collecting water to help prevent brood drying out. When honeybees are exposed to temperatures over 42 C for more than a few hours they are likely to suffer from heat stress which can result in death.

The high temperatures weren’t the only threat to the hives this summer, as wasps benefitted from the warmer weather, causing some of our hives a problem in defending themselves. Wasps typically attack honeybee hives to steal nectar stores or even take larvae to feed their own young.

Keith Simmonds, vice president of Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers Association said: "Despite our bees' challenges this summer, they have come through with their usual determination to survive and are preparing well for a long winter ahead."

The autumn worker bees are different to those in the summer as their fat-producing gene is switched on, so they put on as much weight as possible to stay warm. In comparison, overwintering bees can live for up to six months, while their siblings born during spring and summer survive for no more than six weeks as they work so hard collecting nectar and pollen for the colony.

Tips on how to help bees

  • Provide water during summer – shallow dishes or bird baths with water will help.
  • Keep bee-friendly plants well hydrated.
  • Include drought-tolerant plants in your planting plans
  • Include pollinator-friendly plants and trees in your planting plans – click here for our blog post
  • Choose plants for bees throughout the seasons.
  • If you have a small garden, plant up seasonal containers to encourage bees.
  • Avoid using pesticides.
  • Provide shelters for bees such as stumps or even create your own bee hotel.

Posted 15th Sep 12:58pm