Wow, today we had real summer weather in San Francisco. With temperatures in the high 70s, we could wear shorts and tank tops rather than our usual long sleeves, sweater, and, possibly, knitted hat uniforms. How glorious!
The bees were definitely feeling the heat today. During the warm months in other parts of the country, beekeepers usually take the bottom board (a board under the hive with a small hole cut in it to keep the bees warm, but allow some air to get in) out from under the hive, leaving just a mesh screen to keep the bees cool by increasing air flow. But with our San Francisco summer nights dipping below 50 degrees and daytime highs usually hovering around the upper 50s or low 60s, there's no reason for me to remove the board. Consequently on the sporadic hot days, the hive looks something like this:
I felt a little heated myself today so I took a stroll down the alley next to our house to get a cool drink and found a swirling constellation of my bees whizzing down to the pavement to sip from the nasty pools of water at the base of the stairs. This alley is always filled with every vile specimen known to man: feces (animal and human), barf, rotten food, used motor oil, trash of all kinds, broken liquor bottles, old cat food, dead vermin, cigarette butts, and god knows what else. I couldn't bear the thought of my ladies ingesting such filth so I brought them a bowl with some clean, sopping wet rags. I'd heard that this is a welcomed gesture from the bees when the weather is blazing. (Yes, the high 70s is considered blazing for San Fran. Don't make fun or I'll curse you with months and months of dreary, cold fog. Instead of eating popsicles, you'll be crying for hot chocolate. Don't think I won't do it.)
So far, no bee has touched the lovely clean water. They're sticking with icky gross water. Yuck!