July was a scorching month with Met Éireann reporting record breaking temperatures at seven of their weather stations including temperatures of 29.5°C in Athenry Co. Galway on Saturday the 17th and 30.8°C at Mt Dillon Co. Roscommon on Wednesday the 21st.

Mean air temperatures across the country were above their long-term averages for July and official heatwaves (temperatures above 25°C for at least 5 consecutive days) were reported at 14 stations. Sunshine was above long-term averages throughout, with Cork Airport recording 130% of its long-term average sunshine hours for July.

Like June before it, the month was also a calm one with no gales, strong gales or storms reported despite some strong gusts during thunderstorms. The highest gust was 37 knots (69 km/h) reported at Gurteen, Co. Tipperary on Friday the 23rd during an intense thunderstorm.

The model we are developing clearly reflects the lovely month we had in July and shows that meteorological foraging conditions were better than their long-term average at all the stations analysed. You can see this in Figure 1 which shows the results of our model for July 2021 compared to the average for the previous 10 years, using historical Met Éireann weather.

Of course, even if the weather conditions are perfect for foraging, colonies will not be productive if there is no forage available or if they are too busy with other tasks. For example, if the hive becomes too hot honey production will suffer as the bees spend their time fanning or bringing in water to evaporate and cool the hive rather than foraging for nectar and pollen.

Our recent blog discusses the high in-hive temperatures we observed using the ApisProtect monitor in July and how a beekeeper could intervene to help the bees cool the hive.

How was July in your apiary? Did you intervene in any special ways during the heatwave?

Figure 1. a) Foraging conditions in Ireland throughout July 2021, lighter shades indicate better foraging conditions. b) Comparison of July 2021 foraging conditions to the 10-year historical average for July, blue areas experienced a worse July than average while those shaded red had a better month than average. Uses Met Éireann Data licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.

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