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Bees are in tune to Oklahoma weather

Posted at 11:33 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 12:07:08-04

STILLWATER, Okla. — Dr. Courtney Bir, a professor of agriculture at Oklahoma State University, does beekeeping at her home in Stillwater.

"You actually are allowed to have bees based on the Oklahoma Apiary Act. So you can have bees in your backyard. Make sure you take a class. Make sure you know what you're doing and make sure you talk to your neighbors because being a good neighbor is important," Bir said.

Bees are very smart. In fact, they know exactly where they live once the hobby hive is set up in a yard.

"So bees have a range of about three miles. They do an orientation flight when they are young. Once they do that they know where they live. So they come back every night into the hive. They come back many times through the day depositing nectar and depositing pollen from all of the neighbor's flowers," she explained.

Dr. Bir said bees are highly in tune to the weather and can sense subtle atmospheric changes.

"I know if it's going to rain because they all start coming in and go in the hive. They don't like to be caught out in the rain storms. They are also sensitive to barometric pressure as well as changes in temperatures," Bir said.

Bees, along with many of us, don't enjoy the sweltering late spring and summers. They know when it's time to cool off.

"Right now when we get closer we can see that there's a lot of bees sitting outside the hive. That's because they're hot. That's not typical behavior in the spring or in the fall or on cooler days," she showed us.

They are so adaptive to all seasons, they can regulate the climate inside the beehive.

"One reason why it may seem like bees are overly sensitive to temperature is the temperature inside the hive is over ninety degrees all of the time. So they have eggs and baby bees that they need to keep warm. So even in the winter they are working really hard to produce heat by beating their wings and other behavior. In the summer it's opposite. They have to try and cool down so that those baby bees and other things don't get too hot. They do that by bringing water into the hive and also fanning their wings and making the hot air exit the hive," Bir explained.

It seems these bees are just like meteorologists, always keeping track of Oklahoma's ever-changing weather.

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