Exactly one year ago today on this blog I reported the return of the bee eaters from their winter in South Africa. This evening, I heard them again. I always hear them first, their chiruping sounds are very distinctive. Sure enough they are back, circling over our log cabin and taking bees in flight. How incredible that they return on exactly the same day!
My friend on Facebook and the NBN forum, Gary Fuqua from Illenois in the USA recently had a thermography assessment done on his house. Whilst the guy was there taking thermal images, he got him to take a thermal image of one of his kenyan top bar hives. Gary has kindly allowed me to reproduce the image here. It was 20 degrees F outside the hive when this was taken. You can see the large red area of the winter cluster and the 3 red entrance holes. My conclusion was that it shows the entrance holes ventilating hot(warm & moist) air out. The thermal cycle created by the cluster drives the ventilation of the hive. My theory is that if the cluster of bees dwindled to a less than 'critical mass', the thermal cycle would slow down or stop and hence the ventilation would also stop. Maybe this is this the reason that some beekeepers are seeing mould in their hives?