Oxford Bees

Heatwave 2018

Submitted by will on Sun, 05/08/2018 - 17:35

The UK has been experiencing a heatwave for at least six weeks:

Maximum temperatures at RAF Benson airfield, Oxfordshire during heatwave of June-July 2018
Source: UK Met Office Weather Observations Website

The bees have been fine. There has been forage and there are water sources for them to use. We have not been fine. It's hot and we're not used to it.

A few days ago I put on my bee suit at 4pm and in under 10 minutes I was drenched with sweat. Sweat dripped from my nose and puddled on the visor of my veil. It soaked my t-shirt and my socks and ran down my chest as I leaned over. It wasn't nice.

This is a downside to bee keeping. Suits are really hot. If you have an angry hive it also helps to layer up under your suit -- which makes it even hotter. It's enough to make you want to be a low intervention bee keeper who inspects mostly be examining what falls out of the hive :-)

It hasn't only been hot. It's been very very dry. Weather stations around Oxford show that there has been rain in the county, but in Headington we've seen only about 3 occasions of rain during the 6 weeks, and those were only a few minutes of light rain. Oxford city and Headington seem to have lower rainfall than the surrounding county. It may be the topography, but equally it could be my imagination.

The consequence of this extended hot, dry period haven't been too bad. The winter was wet so we haven't had a drought. Most deeper rooted annuals and perennials have been fine, with excellent flowers, fruit and seeds. There was almost no June gap in flowering, possibly because the cold spring delayed the onset of flowering. Grass has fared very badly where it's been cut and I expect to see heat stress affecting trees which we'll see for several years. The grass has particularly affected the look of the heatwave, with brown parks and gardens. Where grass has been left uncut it hasn't been badly affected.

Cooler Autumnal weather is on its way. There's even rain predicted. I'll be interested to see whether it turns up.