Freakish wind topples bee hives
Elena Campbell protected her colonies from just about everything. She installed electric bear fencing, robbing screens, insulating wraps, candy boards, ant moats, weights, and tie-downs. She thought she had everything covered until an unexpected Eastern Washington wind laid them flat.
Elena explained that her day started out a crisp 20°F. Although the forecast called for increasing clouds, the morning was quiet and blue. She worked outside while she casually watched her bees working a feeder about 160 yards from the hive. Suddenly, powerful gusts of wind whipped through the area and little dust devils danced across the landscape.
First the soil, then the hives
At first, she was dismayed to see the soil blow away. “[I watched] my top soil blow away from the freshly tilled and ready-for-spring vegetable garden. Then I thought, OMG, the hives!”
When she glanced in their direction, she could see they were both already toppled. “I had them individually strapped with cinder blocks on top, in the event of wind. But it wasn’t enough. One still held it’s strap, and so with some struggle, I righted it all as one unit and aligned the various components.
“The other one was a mess. I replaced the individual components one at a time on it, collected the outer blanket blue foam walls, strapped the hives individually, pushed them together, and then placed two car straps attached to the platform diagonally across both hives together.”
The next steps
Frustrated, Elena is worried about her queens. “I hate to think what messes those girls are dealing with in their respective hives, and whether their queens survived this ordeal. The wind is still coming in gusts out of the west/southwest and the dust devils persist.
“The hives still need work. Pine shavings from the blanket box mostly blew away from the left hive, and the sugar fondant (which they’d clearly already started eating!) was shattered. I just put the chunks back in and closed it up. The right hive undoubtedly has pine shavings all concentrated on one side instead of spread evenly, and I don’t know what the fondant is like. If and when we have a warm, CALM, sunny day, I’ll take them apart again and put things completely back to right.”
What to do differently?
Elena is looking for advice on what to do differently and how to improve her setup.
My own thought is the legs of the hive stand should be further apart. Having them inside the footprint of the bottom board makes the hive less stable. I would make the have stand larger than the base of the hive, and mount the legs in the corners.
Also, I question whether the legs need to be that long. If a lot of wind is tunneling underneath the stand, that may be adding to the instability. On the other hand, I’m not terribly familiar with ant problems, and I don’t know if the length of the legs is important.
So what do you think? What else can Elena do to secure the hives against quirky winds? Your thoughts are appreciated.
Honey Bee Suite