Check It Out: Cooling Queens Helps Them Survive the Hot Summers

By Lulu Chen, Intern at the AgAID Institute, Washington State University

Bee flying towards a white flower.
Climate change poses a unique difficulty for beekeepers banking queen bees over the summer. Photo: Dirk Gently under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Warmer summers brought on by climate change pose a unique difficulty for beekeepers. However, a recent study by Washington State University suggests a viable remedy. The study looks into the practice of “queen banking,” which involves keeping extra queens for use in the future. The researchers found that by keeping queen bees in controlled indoor situations over the summer, beekeepers may increase honey bee survivorship and take proactive steps to address climate change. It is important to note that there are a few factors, which should be covered in more detail, that make it necessary to bank queens during the summer.

When compared to conventional outdoor storage techniques, keeping queen bees in refrigerators considerably enhanced their survival rates and the queens needed less upkeep. This innovative method solves problems with queen quality, an important factor when trying to avoid honey bee losses. As temperatures rise and wildfires become more frequent in the Pacific Northwest – and in California, where most queens are currently banked – this approach also offers a climate-resilient technique to help sustain colonies.

In order to guarantee a steady supply of pollinators for sustainable agriculture in the Pacific Northwest as the climate warms, and to protect the availability of queens, indoor queen banking could become essential. To learn more about this study and the promise of climate-smart beekeeping techniques in the Pacific Northwest, check out this article in Washington State University’s newsletter. In order to mitigate the consequences of climate change and help preserve the general wellbeing of honey bee populations, the article emphasizes the significance of such actions. For a deeper dive into the subject, you can also read the peer-reviewed study itself, available as an open access publication in the Journal of Apicultural Research.

This internship is a part of the AI Research Institutes program supported by NSF and USDA-NIFA under the AI Institute: Agricultural AI for Transforming Workforce and Decision Support (AgAID) award No. 2021-67021-35344.