You see, while it’s cold in the winter and they huddle in the hive to keep their queen warm, they also have to deal with the summer’s heat and the humidity. The brood nest needs to be kept a constant 94F, and that’s easy to do in the summer until temperature outside the hive gets hot. While humans find a place with air conditioning, the bees need to resort to other methods. When this happens, they cool the hive by fanning the entrance, creating a draft. The draft carries away the humidity, and that lowers the surface temperature in the same way that a breeze does with your sweat. The bees know how the basic principle of a swamp cooler works, and they figured it out millions of years before we did. Smart little buggers.
So to help my bees handle the heat this summer, I am building, and thus experimenting with, a short, stubby box that has vent holes around it, often referred to as a “vented super”. So that the bees don’t have to defend the holes from intruders, and am going to put some screen over the holes to allow only air to pass though. By placing this box on top of the inner cover, the vent holes provide a place for warm air to rise up and out of the hive. Plus, it creates some cross ventilation from the horizontal nature of a breeze across and through the vent holes.
Of course, this will be a summer add-on, and will be removed in the fall. New England winters can get cold, and I don’t want the poor workers struggling to keep their queen warm as they wonder who left the screen door open.