Sunday, June 30, 2019

Keeping My Cool

Bees are awesome! Keeping bees is amazing! Sweating buckets during hive inspections is NOT. But when one tends a creature that likes hot weather, it's inevitable that one is going to spend a lot of time in the heat.

Although summer is my favorite season, the older I get, I find I'm not able to tolerate mid-day heat as well as I used to. Since I don't have a ventilated jacket, I've adopted some tricks to avoid overheating. For those who are similarly challenged, I thought I'd share my Top 4 Tips for Keeping Cool. 

Tip 1. Inspect in the Morning

  • This tip is kind of a no-brainer. Avoid inspecting during the heat of the day. If possible, I like to finish up inspections before 11 am.
Tip 2. Keep inspections brief

  • Unless I actually have to look at every bar/frame for some reason, I don't. I check just enough to make sure that things are going well, and then I close up. If possible, I try to keep inspections under 15 minutes per hive. 

Tip 3. Wear baggy / light clothes
  • A lot of beeks wear jeans during inspection, but personally, I find them unbearable in hot weather. Instead, I opt for really baggy linen pants. If the bees are gentle, I'll don an oversized cotton dress shirt and veil instead of a jacket. Natural fabrics like linen and cotton are light and breathable, and the bagginess of the clothing keeps stingers away from my skin. (Ladies, you can easily raid your husband's closets for a big shirt.)
Tip 4. Get some cooling gear
  • A couple of years ago, I spotted a cooling cap and cooling neck tie in the athletic section at Walmart. I was skeptical that they would actually work, but it was the end of summer, so they were on clearance. I think I got them both for under $5 -- cheap enough to take a risk on them. Basically, the necktie is a fabric tube filled with water beads. (If you have kids, you'll know them as Orbeez.) The cap is also filled with some kind of water absorbing polymer pad. Like Orbeez, but in pad form. Anyway, you soak them in water for 5 or 10 mins and put them on. The brand I have is called Misty Mate. I've seen other products online like cooling vests, and if I lived in Texas or Florida, I might try them. But so far, these two things have been sufficient for me. They won't win me any fashion awards, but I'm so cool I don't care. 

So what about you? What are your secrets for beating the heat?


  1. I bought an Ultra Breeze suit a couple years ago and just love it. A breeze blows right through it, and while I still get hot and sweaty it does help. Last weekend I happened to have a damp bathing suit on underneath and it was surprisingly helpful as well :)

    Stay cool!


  2. I avoid going into my hives when it's hot, especially the top bars. But generally, I follow your regimen of going in early and getting out as quickly as possible. I wear nylon zip off hiking pants. They are baggy and cool and if I'm out checking remote hives, I can zip off the legs for some cooling between stops. I wear a white long sleeved sun shirt over a base layer. Just have to make sure that the veil covers the gap in the back if the shirt has one otherwise the little buggers will find their way inside. One problem I have is them going through the gap between the shirt buttons. I frequently get stung in the belly. I would like to get an Ultra Breeze at some point - especially for more aggressive hives. And, I'll have to check out the cooling gear.


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