Tips for what to do for your backyard honey bees in a flood & during torrential weather
Here are some tips from Daryl Brenton from The Beekeeper’s Honey based on the Mid North Coast of NSW. Daryl is a professional beekeeper and understands many suburban bee-lovers and small farmers may be facing a flood and torrential weather threat for the first time as beekeepers. Here are some ideas to think about to keep your bees safe and well.
Tip your hives slightly forward
Slightly tilt your hive so moisture inside can run out. It’s important not to let water pool in the hive.
Trim wet grass back at the entrance to the hive
If there is long grass in front of your hives, cut it down as this will help reduce moisture coming into the hive and save your bees having to scramble through it.
Raise or move your hives
If at all possible, move your bees well before floods arrive, but this isn’t always possible. So, if your property is under threat from flood, raise the hives up on bricks (or something that won’t float easily) to give your bees the best chance of survival. If the height of the bricks isn’t high enough, you may need to move them to a completely different location that is well above flood level. Keep in mind, it is best to move bees to their new location at night (so you don’t lose your worker bees who are out foraging - however, during torrential weather - it is likely most of the worker bees will be home during the day too so it will be okay in this instance to move during the day). Be mindful that the bees will be very defensive because of the poor weather, so suit up safely and smoke the hive before you do anything.
What to do when your bottom box is covered by flood water
If the entry to the hive is flooded and you can’t move them, slightly crack the top lid so the bees don’t suffocate. This also allows them to come and go as needed. Try to position the lid in a way to minimise rain entering the hive, but still giving the bees the oxygen and escape route they need.
If worse comes to worse
You may need to sacrifice one hive to save another. You can do this by placing one hive above the other to keep it out of the water. Do not put yourself in danger of flood waters yourself though.
Post bee care after storms and flood
If your hive has been flooded but still has enough living bees, they will take care of cleaning the inside of the hive and removing debris. But as they will have been trapped in their hive for some time due to the weather, and the nectar will have been washed from flowers, they won’t be able to access food easily. This means they need to eat stores from their own hive, so please don’t take honey off them until they have recovered sufficiently. This is very important, especially going into winter, as they will need all the stores they can to survive. If it is Autumn, it’s a good time to think about compacting your bees down to two-high.
Thank you for caring for your bees. Stay safe!