Friday, August 20, 2010

Bearding Bees on the Roof + Bee Cam Mania

So yes, Art's a crazy man with the closed-circuit cameras, but what a fun obsession. It's a long way to the roof, relatively speaking, and being able to watch what's going on with the hives wouldn't be possible unless we lived up there (don't put it past us when the weather cools).

We have three monitors down here at my desk featuring rooftop hive action. I made the pictures below by photographing the monitors so you could see what I see.

Here's this year's new hive, with the Italians
bearding up
on a hot hot late afternoon.
There are lots of places to read up on bearding. From gardenweb:

Bearding is a form of hive air-conditioning; the bees depart the immediate brood nest area in order to help keep it at the desired temperature (too many busy bee bodies = too many BTUs). When you see all the bees outside the hive an hour before sundown, you'll also notice the following morning (early a.m.), most if not all, have gone back inside the hive because the outside air temperature (and thus the hive temp) has dropped - again, just a way they regulate the brood nest temperature.

Here's Hive 1, with an amazing lip beard
(Kara's description and right on)

KirkoBeeo at Backward Beekeepers has this to says about bearding:
When we checked out the hive the bees were bearding on the outside of the hive. This is a sign of crowding and it being pretty hot.
Since Noam checked the hives the last day of July and augmented their living space (top photo), we're not too concerned about crowding...but our Chicago weather has been nothing but hot and humid.

Introducing the third bee cam, just installed by Art, who wanted a side view. He noticed when the bees beard they pile on top of each other, forming a thick layer of bees atop bees.

Here are the Italians in a side view,
same moment as as the photo two up.
We're looking forward to Sunday, our first honey harvest. Stay tuned for more.

And by the way, there's another meaning to the term "bee beard"...


Dale said...

Lip beard! That video is amazing, there's just one thing I'm struggling with here... Why??

H2 said...

You and me both, Dale...

Debbie said...

I am wondering how the brave man got them off of his body.

Homegrown Evolution said...

Kirkobeeo shared a tip at our last meeting--sometimes he cracks the lid a bit with some matchsticks for some ventilation, particularly when there's moisture building up on the inside. Our bees beard a bit in the early evening, but our climate is a lot more mild than yours!

Homegrown Evolution said...

Just remembered that we use "migratory" covers. Not sure the match trick would work with "telescoping" covers.

Alison said...

Love it! Glad to see your girls are doing well. Can't wait to hear how the honey harvest goes. Is there a primary nectar in your area (e.g., clover) or is it more of a wildflower mix?

H2 said...

Alison: seems Chicago has a nice diversity of nectar plants with a lot of clover (and our seven kinds of blooming basil--bees just crowd onto the flowers). See this good link:

Also, I like this piece by the Chicago Honey Co-op folks, talking about the importance to bees of blooming trees:

H2 said...

Hi Erik: Yeah, Noam does ventilate. Not sure exactly how but in this heat for certain. Thanks for the tips!