A simple polystyrene cover could help cool beehives during heat waves, preventing a grim outcome for male bees.
Sorry, bees do what now?
When male bees, or drones, die from shock such as being too hot, they convulse, forcing them to ejaculate, and an internal penis-equivalent about the size of the bee’s own abdomen exits their body. We know that after six hours at 42 degrees Celsius, 50 per cent of drones will die of heat stress. These are the same temperatures seen during 2021’s heatwave in B.C.
How do we stop bees from exploding?
Working with beekeeper colleague Emily Huxter in 2021, UBC postdoctoral fellow Dr. Alison McAfee (she/her) tested two-inch polystyrene covers on six hives, and fed bees syrup in six others. They found covered hives were almost four degrees Celsius cooler than controls, and those with syrup about one degree cooler.
What did you ‘hive’ in mind?
While not peer-reviewed, this practical experiment could help beekeepers find easy ways to keep their hives cool during extreme heat, an increasingly common occurrence, says Dr. McAfee. Read more here.
Interview language(s): English
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