If left to their own devices, bees will naturally create their “home” (which consists both of the hive, hollow tree trunk or wherever else they may chose to settle and the colony of bees itself) in a way which maintains the warmth of the “home” and their own pheromones, whilst at the same time keeping the atmosphere germ-free.
Every crevice of the interior is covered in wax or propolis to ensure that each pathway between the honeycombs forms a complete room in itself, with an opening below the bottom of the comb to enable fresh air to enter and circulate.
Bees need warmth: even when overwintering they need to maintain temperatures of around 22 to 25 degrees Celsius, increasing to 34 to 35 degrees Celsius for the brood chamber, and going up to as much as 40 degrees Celsius for honey maturation.
All this heat has to be produced by the bees themselves. This requires significant effort - particularly during colder months - and consequently substantial amounts of honey.
In hot summers similar energy is expended by the bees in keeping the temperature down.
There are hives available, such as the Sun Hive, Horizontal Top Bar and Warré hives, which take the bees’ need for warmth, scent and germ-free atmosphere into account to a much greater extent than conventional (frame-based) hives, which can never be wholly sealed.
However, regardless of the type of hive, these needs of the bees should be considered whenever the urge to open the hive arises.
Of course there are rare occasions which will warrant opening the hive. But every time the beekeeper does so the warmth atmosphere within is disturbed. It is good to bear in mind that the bees' health and their achievements, both in breeding and producing honey, depend on the warmth of their home. Not stressing them unnecessarily with extra work in rebuilding hive temperature and atmosphere is likely to contribute to improved colony health in the long term.
David Heaf's translation of Johann Thür's work (http://www.users.callnetuk.com/~heaf/thur.pdf) is an excellent source for those who would like to read more about the importance of maintaining nest scent and warmth (Nestduftwarmebindung).
please contact (as soon as possible) either:
Heidi Herrmann: 01342 82 2101 / 07925 372524
Penny Crowder: 01342 82 2224 / 07817 880325
Peter Brown 07803 032283
Ninette Sapir: 01342 82 6374
or Plaw Hatch Farm: 01342 81 0201
We can cover an area of about 15 miles from Forest Row, Sussex RH193RX
And here is help for swarms in areas of the country we do not cover:
For Surrey and South Essex please contact Chris Cook on 07847 393182 or 01306 500067