How to Keep Cool Like a Bee

How to Keep Cool Like a Bee

Summer heat waves can be a real struggle without the refreshingly cool blast of air conditioning—major respect for humankind before the invention of central air! But if you're overheating in your home, never fear! You can just move into a hive—they come with some of the best air conditioning around, powered by bees!   

Here’s the deal, bees are actually *experts* at keeping cool. They have no A/C, no refreshing mint lemonades, no in-ground pools. They don't even sweat. So how do they do it? They utilize a pretty incredible force—hive power. Check out these 3 amazing techniques bees use to keep their hive chill during a heat wave…          

Two words: BEE FANS.  

Bees have incredible wings that can beat at a rate of over 12,000 beats per minute. Suffice to say, when hundreds of worker bees start beating their wings altogether, they create a pretty significant breeze. When the hive gets hot and muggy, worker bees start rapidly beating their wings to take on the task of improving airflow—encouraging fresh, cool air to come in while expelling hot, humid air. Think of it as blasting hundreds of small, high powered fans at strategic locations throughout your home. Sure, it'd be a little noisy, but you'd definitely feel a lot cooler.            

Buzzing water fountains.   

The ultimate team players, some bees have the task of water collection. That means they leave the hive in search of water, drink up to their max, and return to hydrate thirsty bees. But they don’t just hydrate fellow bees—they hydrate the hive itself! These bees actually go around spitting water at the hot hive walls. While this may seem wasteful to an outsider, it’s actually an ingenious cooling mechanism known as evaporative cooling. The water absorbs some of the heat from the hive structure and, when it evaporates, it whisks the heat away as well. Luckily, bees don't have any water-sensitive electronics to worry about in their honeycomb.      

Hardcore manual heat circulation.   

Delicate young bees developing in the wax cells must be carefully maintained at a temperature between 89.6 and 95 degrees F (32-35º C), unlike full grown bees who can tolerate temps as high as 122 degrees F (50º C). In order to keep their most precious cargo safe and healthy, worker bees will actually press their bodies up against the hot cell walls in order to absorb some of the excess heat. Then, they will buzz off to a cooler part of the hive to release and disperse the heat throughout other areas.  

In fact, bees are incredibly efficient at cooling their hives in this way. According to a Tufts University study in which researchers gently heated hives with theater lights for a short period of time, bees were able to bring the hive temperatures back down to safe levels within 10 minutes! And it was pure bee circulation power, because the empty control hives remained overheated long afterwards. By doing this over and over again, bees are able to keep their babies safe through the worst bouts of summer heat.    

Okay, so maybe you’re not into flapping your arms and spitting water at the walls of your bedroom, but we can learn a lot from bees about how to keep cool and chill out. Go swimming, use plenty of fans, and keep an ice pack nearby to absorb some excess heat. And maybe, someday, you'll be just as cool as a bee. 

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