Our record heat continues, with daytime temperatures reaching 106 degrees, while night temperatures haven’t dropped much below 78 degrees.  It’s very dry and the humidity is low, as well.  Not going to be any honey this year from the three colonies, as best as I can see.

All three colonies are growing well, as I continue feeding and medicating with essential oils.  Quite by accident, I had ordered a Varroa mite trap bottom board for one of the hives.  Rather than a solid wooden bottom, the bottom board has wire screen mesh, large enough for mites to fall out of the hive, but small enough the bees cannot use it as an entrance.  Together with the screened inner cover, I noted that the bees did little entrance fanning during this heat to cool the hive.  In fact, they seem much happier and busier.  So, I ordered two more of the same hive bottoms and changed them out.  Now, where bees would be clustered at the entrances, fanning away to cool the colony, they too are busy flying and no gathering at the entrance.  A major improvement and far less stress on the colonies!

Looking at some further research with these screened bottom boards, contrary to traditional thinking, bees winter better in temperate climates with the screened board.  They are still able to maintain hive temperature, but excess moisture can escape from the hive and the bees come into the Spring faster and healthier.  If necessary, a plastic “sticky board” can be slid into the entrance, sealing the hive bottom, allowing less heat to escape.  I don’t think that’s going to be necessary here, but at least with these bottom boards, I have an option.  So far, I’m very pleased with them and know the Varroa mite population is being lowered by this simple effort.