Summer heat is the norm for us across the southeast. "Hot enough for ya?", is often heard and not really meant to be a question, rather, more of a statement.
Humans have the benefit of stepping inside and getting a break from the heat courtesy of mechanical air conditioning. But what do you do, when you live in a multi storied "building", that has no mechanical air conditioning, and you need to keep the interior as cool as possible. What does the honey bee do?
Honey bees need to keep their hives cool enough to maintain the strength and integrity of the honeycomb. If the bee hive temperatures get too hot, the wax comb will weaken, collapse, and damage is done to both the honey stores, and wax cells that foster the future bees of the hive.
A fully laden frame on honey, depending on size, can weigh upwards of 5 to 11 pounds. If you have 10 frames in a hive box, that can be upwards of 100+ lbs of weight.
In order to cool their hives you may see what we refer to as "bearding" by the bees outside the entrance of the hive. Literally, hundreds or thousands of bees will move outside in order to help keep the inside of the hive cool. Often times, this is mistaken for swarming.
If you look close enough, you will notice several lines of bees gathered around the interior of the hive entrance (heads point out, bee butts in) fanning their wings. This creates air flow through the hive and helps with cooling the hive.
Bees will also use water to help cool the interior of the hive through evaporation. Certain bees have the task of finding a water source, filling their stomachs with water, and then spitting that water out throughout the interior of the hive. Air flow over the water creates evaporation and that cools temperatures through the hive.
Bees are pretty fascinating and crafty engineers!