As Hurricane Dorian puts much of Grand Bahama Island underwater and starts its journey along the US east coast, this seems like a good time to talk about bees and hurricanes.
What can you do as a beekeeper to help protect your apiary and bees?
Here are some tips we have gathered that may or may not help save hives during a hurricane. Ultimately, you'll need to make your own decisions and use your common sense.
Bees usually stay calm and carry on in bad weather. They huddle in their hive and lay low, waiting for the storm to pass.
If you have supplies and tools lying around, gather them up into a waterproof tub that should be stored away in your shed or another dry place off the ground.
Check your hive’s basic structural integrity and hammer it together if necessary.
Seal hive joints if they are loose, preferably with propolis as part of your hive-waterproofing plan.
Remove any large rocks or natural debris around the hives that could cause damage if it were to get airborne.
Trim trees and/or move hives away from trees so falling limbs won’t harm a beehive.
There is a debate about whether it is more important to (a) move hives away from low-lying areas / low elevations, so they don’t flood, or (b) keep hives close to the ground so high winds don’t topple them. This decision should be made by each beekeeper depending on the lay of the land and other factors.
Stapling the hive lid to the box may help depending on your hive’s construction.
Secure the beehive to a hive stand if you have one to stabilize it against wind.
Use ratchet straps from a hardware store to secure beehives. Tie your clustered hives together with straps positioned vertically around the outsides of an entire set of beehives, as if to make them into one unit.
Fasten hives to 2’ long metal spikes anchored into the ground near your hives, then wrap a ratchet strap horizontally around the hives and attach to the bar to secure hives. This may keep colonies upright in strong winds.
Tilt hives forward a little so water won’t pool in the bottom of the hives.
Remove external hive feeders so if they get ripped off by wind it won't expose the colony to rain.
According to First Coast News, Denise DeClair is a St. Augustine beekeeper who is trying to keep her 60,000 bees safe.
She wants to elevate her beehives, so they sit higher in case of flooding. She had bees back at the time of Hurricanes Irma and Matthew, when the water rose to 34 inches. That’s way above the height of her beehives. She thinks it will be similar when Hurricane Dorian hits the coast as a Category 3 hurricane.
She is as concerned about her bees as she is about her own home and asks for any beekeepers with experience to share what they’ve learned.
If you're a beekeeper who has been through a hurricane or similar storm, please go to our Facebook page and share what you learned. We all thank you!