Cyclones can cause strong winds that can push bee hives over and cause flash flooding which can wash bees away. Here are 18 ways to keep bees safe during and following a cyclone in Fiji.
Keep your bees safe during and following a cyclone in Fiji
- Safety first. This is obvious, but remember that your life is more important than your bees. Never put yourself or other people at risk for your hives.
- Start early. As with home preparation, it is better to prepare your apiary and beekeeping response sooner rather than rushing or panicking later.
- Store some sugar. After the storm, your bees’ food supply may have been destroyed. You will want to be able to supply them with something to eat right away. Feed dry sugar and keep records of what comes into flower first after weather events.
- Repair beekeeping equipment. Seal any cracks or holes in old bee boxes to reduce exposure to wind and rain.
- Move bees where appropriate. If bees are located in high wind area or areas which may flood, it may be suitable to close entrances in the evening and move bees into a shed or other area for 48hrs while the storm passes. Don’t put bees in the house or in sheds near houses!
- Mark hive location. If you want to return the hives to where they were before the cyclone, especially if you have a lot of hives to manage, take note of the position/location of each hive and write it down for future reference.
- Reduce entrance as small as you can. If it’s not appropriate to move bees, closing the entrance fully helps prevent wind and water from getting into the hive but, depending on the season, may also create unsafe high-temperature conditions inside or prevent an escape by bees in the event one is needed. This is why it can be good to reduce the entrance as much as possible without closing it up entirely. In the event of rising water or the hive being knocked into water, this can give your bees a last-chance escape route. Additionally, after the cyclone, if you are not able to get to your hives immediately, this allows bees to exit the hives.
- Move bees away from trees, power lines, and other hazards. You don’t want your hives crushed by falling trees or electrocuted by a live wire during a storm. If you can, move hives away from potential hazards.
- Place them on high ground. One major threat to hives during a cyclone is flooding. Keep bees up off the ground, but note that placing bees higher means they are potentially more exposed to more wind.
- Close up screen bottom boards. A broken window in a home during a cyclone can result in dangerous wind tunnels, and similarly, high winds during a cyclone are dangerous for bees and can create a high-pressure environment inside a hive. Many beekeepers make wind barriers with cardboard in order to help prevent a potential wind tunnel.
- Tilt the hives. Tilting hives forward can be important, where possible. This will help water exit the hive in the event of water getting in.
- Secure hives together and/or to a heavy object & strap hives down. You will need ratchet straps or rope and ground anchors (e.g., fence post/star pickets) to secure your hive. Securing the hives with ratchet straps or rope will help to keep it in one place and one piece. Consider securing the hives both horizontally and vertically, and securing them all together if you have multiple hives.
- Put away all apiary equipment. Your apiary equipment should be stored away safely. You don’t want your tools to become dangerous flying projectiles…or to fly away and never be seen again!