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Beekeeping Education

Should You Put Your Beehive In The Sun or Shade

To decide whether or not you should put your hive in the sun or shade, I think it is essential to understand what temperature your bees are most comfortable and productive.  Understanding this will help you determine where to place your hive.

The optimal temperature that bees try to keep their hive is around 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  This temperature promotes proper brood development.

The hive can maintain this temperature within a few degrees in most cases.  If the temperature in the hive begins to drop, the bees will cluster around the queen and brood area of the hive, vibrating their wings and thorax to generate and conserve heat.  If the hive is getting too hot, the bees will spread out, fanning their wings to help ventilate the hive, often fanning at the entrance to bring cooler fresh air into the hive.  On really hot days, bees may beard on the outside of the hive.  Bearding is when they cluster on the outside of the hive, often in the shape of a beard.  This reduces the biomass in the hive, allowing it to cool off or, at the very least, not add additional body heat to the hive.  This is like when humans are crammed in a small room; it gets hot and stuffy from their body heat.

Now that we know what temperature the bees like, we can use that info to determine where we should put our hives.  For example, if you are beekeeping in a hot area like Arizona, it gets well above 100 degrees for days on end in the summer.  Therefore, you would want to place your hive where it gets shade in the afternoon and evenings.  However, direct sun is fine if you live in a cooler area and it rarely gets above 95 degrees.

Either way, it is best practice to try to position your hive where it will get early morning sun.  The extra warmth will help wake the bees up, get them active, and get them out foraging for resources, making the hive stronger and more honey for you to eat!

Another benefit of full sun, beekeepers have reported fewer Small Hive Beetles in hives that get more sun.



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