Climate Study: Painting Bee Hives Black is Bad for Bees

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Apparently painting bee boxes black, to “simulate a warmer, future climate”, results in higher mortality and greater stress. But the study authors appear to have overlooked another effect of painting the boxes black.

Climate change linked to potential population decline in bees

Study finds that warmer temperatures push bees to their physiological limits, may drive local extinction


Study finds that warmer temperatures push bees to their physiological limits, may drive local extinction

EVANSTON, Ill. — A new study from Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden has found that climate change may drive local extinction of mason bees in Arizona and other naturally warm climates.

In a two-year, in situ field experiment that altered the temperature of the bees’ nests to simulate a warmer, future climate, 35 percent of bees died in the first year and 70 percent died in the second year. This is compared to a 1-2 percent mortality rate in the control group.

“The projected temperatures appear to be pushing this species up against its physiological limits,” said Northwestern’s Paul CaraDonna, who led the research. “This is evidence that we might see local extinction in the warmer parts of this species’ range, which is pretty sobering.”

To study how climate change affects mason bees, CaraDonna’s team set up three types of nesting environments in Arizona’s Santa Catalina Mountains, where the bees thrive. The team manipulated the temperatures of the nests by painting them to simulate past, present and future climates. The team painted a third of the nests black to absorb more radiant heat, thus simulating a future climate predicted for the years 2040 to 2099. By painting another third with a white, reflective, cooling treatment, the team sent that third of the nests back in time to a climate similar to that of the 1950s. As a control, the team painted the final third nests with a transparent paint, leaving their natural wood color for a control group. The experiment included 90 nests total, each housing anywhere from 2 to 15 bees.

Read more:

The abstract of the study;

Experimental warming in the field delays phenology and reduces body mass, fat content and survival: Implications for the persistence of a pollinator under climate change

Paul J. CaraDonna James L. Cunningham Amy M. Iler
First published: 27 June 2018

  1. Climate change is rapidly altering thermal environments across the globe. The effects of increased temperatures in already warm environments may be particularly strong because organisms are likely to be near their thermal safety margins, with limited tolerance to additional heat stress.
  2. We conduct an in situ field experiment over 2 years to investigate the direct effects of temperature change on an early‐season solitary bee in a warm, arid region of the Southwestern USA. Our field experiment manipulates the thermal environment of Osmia ribifloris (Megachilidae) from larval development through adult emergence, simulating both previous cooler (c. 1950; nest boxes painted white) and future warmer (2040–2099; nest boxes painted black) climate conditions. In each year, we measure adult emergence phenology, linear body size, body mass, fat content and survival.
  3. Bees in the warming treatment exhibit delayed emergence phenology and a substantial increase in phenological variance. Increases in temperature also lead to reductions in body mass and fat content. Whereas bees in the cooling and control treatments experience negligible amounts of mortality, bees in the warming treatment experience 30%–75% mortality.
  4. Our findings indicate that temperature changes that have occurred since c. 1950 have likely had relatively weak and non‐negative effects, but predicted warmer temperatures create a high stress thermal environment for O. ribifloris. Later and more variable emergence dates under warming likely compromise phenological synchrony with floral resources and the ability of individuals to find mates. The consequences of phenological asynchrony, combined with reductions in body mass and fat content, will likely impose fitness reductions for surviving bees. Combined with high rates of mortality, our results suggest that O. ribifloris may face local extinction in the warmer parts of its range within the century under climate change.
  5. Temperature increases in already warm ecosystems can have substantial consequences for key components of life history, physiology and survival. Our study provides an important example of how the responses of ectothermic insects to temperature increases in already warm environments may be insufficient to mitigate the negative consequences of future climate change.

Read more:

Reading the full text, the scientists gathered nests and put them in their painted boxes.

Our experiment has four stages: collection of newly completed nests from unmanipulated nest boxes and transfer to experimental nest boxes; exposure to experimental temperature treatments in the field from April until emergence in the following year; monitoring emergence phenology; and collection of emergent bees and postprocessing in the laboratory to measure adult body size and fat content.

The warming treatment consisted of nest boxes painted with flat black acrylic latex‐based paint (Figure 2); because a black surface absorbs more radiant energy, this treatment warms internal nest temperatures. The control treatment consisted of identical nest boxes painted with a transparent acrylic paint (Figure 2); these resemble the unmanipulated nest boxes placed in the wild nearby. The cooling treatment differed between the 2 years of the experiment, although treatment effects were similar (see Section 3).

Aside from the absurd suggestion that a slight range shift is a serious enough problem to warrant the term “local extinction”, there is another curiosity which caught my attention.

The team seem to have logged daily maximum temperature inside the boxes, but I didn’t see any attention to daily minimum temperature. Painting the boxes black would have caused higher maximum temperatures from absorption of sunlight in the daytime, but the black painted boxes would also have radiated heat faster at night.

So it seems possible that much of the damage to the bees in the black boxes was caused by colder night time temperatures, rather than warmer daytime temperatures.

Northwestern’s Paul CaraDonna painted artificial nests with black, white or transparent paint to simulate warming, cooling or control, respectively. CREDIT Paul CaraDonna, Northwestern University

The Tucson, Arizona region where the experiment was conducted experiences some cold nights most of the year, with an average of 26.4 days per year where temperatures dip below freezing in Tucson, likely even more cold nights in the nearby Santa Catalina Mountains where the experiment was conducted.

Update (EW): The issue of whether black paint would enhance night time cooling is not as clear cut as I thought.

Consider the following study

Effect of exterior surface colour on the thermal performance of buildings

The effect of external surface colour on the thermal behaviour of a building has been studied experimentally as well as theoretically. Experiments were performed on scaled down units of 1 m3 volume, under different conditions; namely (i) completely tight building, (ii) effect of opening the door and (iii) of an overhang on the window for complete shading throughout the day. A computer simulation programme, based on periodic solution of the heat conduction equation, was developed to yield the time variation of the room temperature corresponding to the given meteorological parameters. As expected, the black painted enclosure recorded a maximum of 7°C higher temperature than the corresponding white painted enclosure during hours of maximum solar radiation, while during the night the two enclosures showed nearly the same temperatures (being the light weight constructions). The experimentally observed temperature meaasurements were quite consistent with the theoretical calculations within experimental accuracies (±2°C). The same software when used to simulate the behaviour of a normal sized heavy structure, predicted 4°C to 8°C higher temperature throughout a period of 24 hours for a black coloured surface than the corresponding white one.

Read more:

Does this apply to the bee experiment? It may do – the boxes look lightly constructed – they might have rapidly achieved thermal equilibrium regardless of the colour of the paint. On the other hand, the bees normally nest in protected cavities which might offer at least some thermal insulation.

Osmia females typically nest in narrow gaps and naturally occurring tubular cavities.[1] Commonly this means hollow twigs, but can be in abandoned nests of wood-boring beetles or carpenter bees, in snail shells, under bark, or in other small protected cavities.[4] They do not excavate their own nests. The material used for the cell can be clay, mud, grit, or chewed plant tissue. The palearctic species O. avosetta is one of a few species known for lining the nest burrows with flower petals.[5] A female might inspect several potential nests before settling in.

Read more:

Were these insulated cavities preserved when the nests were collected? Does any thermal insulation provided by the preserved nest material matter? How does contact with the black painted surfaces in the “global warming” boxes affect the nest insulation?

The paint pigment might also influence the thermal properties of the box. According to industry literature carbon black, iron oxide black or copper chromite black are standard black pigments for most formulations, but they have very low infrared reflectivity and a TSR of about 6%. But some “black” paints have additives like Titanium oxides which are very reflective in the infrared spectrum, pigments which keep the dark painted structure cooler in daytime but which might also affect thermal emission at night.

It would have been nice to see the minimum temperatures recorded by those temperature loggers in the study, to check these concerns either way.

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Stephanie Mitchell
June 28, 2018 2:16 am

No *%!@!

Sam C Cogar
Reply to  Stephanie Mitchell
June 28, 2018 9:25 am

What next, will Paul J. CaraDonna, James L. Cunningham and Amy M. Iler be conducting “Summertime” Global Warming Survival Testing on young children, 1 to 3 year old, by placing them in locked vehicles of different colors that have been parked in the “hot” Arizona Sunshine.

Reply to  Stephanie Mitchell
June 30, 2018 8:47 am

Stephanie : I agree……NOW go and wash your mouth out !!! Naughty Girl !!
ps……It seems that this kind of ‘NONSENSICAL SCIENCE’ will increase in future
as there are lots of desperate STUDENTS trying to obtain subject matter for
a degree of some sort !
IT WOULD HAVE “BEEn” A LOT better if they had looked at some method of
control or eradication of VARROA MITE

June 28, 2018 2:24 am

I’d be kicking their butts hard!
utter bloody fools!
so the bees made normal sited nests and these twits moved them to “prove”
the bees are way smarter than they could ever aspire to be.
if temps rose then the bees would take that into acct and site their new hive accordingly
all thes mongrels have done is kill bees that are already low pop and struggling.
iIwork with bees helping a mate and this makes me wildly angry
I’ve seen crud like this vefore
uni students going out in large groups to “monitor” butterfly pops
meanwhile killing many- damaging sites they were in and trashing the area generally smashing around like the gormless fools they and their greentinged tutor all were!
the endangering comes FROM the enviro whackos
banning beekeepers from established sites in Nat parks so they can run orienteering groups through- who do little good- but “might be endangered by the bees”
and dont even pay for use as the apiarists do
meanwhile the bush doesnt get pollinated as well.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
June 28, 2018 7:04 am

Yes, this is the most pathetic attempt at “simulating future climate” . Firstly, only the box is hotter during the day. The outside remains the same. This means the animals get a thermal shock whenever they enter or leave. As cold blooded creatures, how does that affect them? It may also affect when they chose to go out, only to get surprised by the conditions.

This is just brain dead pseudo-science.

Any half competent peer reviewer would point out these flaws and recommend non publication.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
June 28, 2018 7:13 am

” Later and more variable emergence dates under warming likely compromise phenological synchrony with floral resources ”

So screwing around the bee’s habitation in an unchanged local environment is not going affect their phenological synchrony ??

They even point out the flaws in their own method but don’t even notice.

Reply to  ozspeaksup
June 28, 2018 7:34 am

Nests of 2 to 9 bees? Hardly established colonies.

One has to read the paper to realize they are cooking the bees as well. From their experiment one must conclude that they believe the future temperature would be 10 °C warmer during the day. That’s a whopping difference.

Why not simply observe established bee colonies in different climes to determine if temperature had any effect?

What is the toxicity of the black paint to insects?

Reply to  rocketscientist
June 28, 2018 2:06 pm

They’re abusing native bees, not the honeybee.
Native bees are solitary bees, but they will use a common dwelling site. Their nests are narrow holes which gardeners emulate with large straws under a rain cover.

These bees tend to naturally nest in shadier places, often with thick thermal walls around their nest holes.

These yahoos transplanting and forced cooking solitary bees is intentionally cruel in the cause of anti-science.

Their picture shows three tubes. Native bees usually nest with their specific nest open to the atmosphere. Nests under house eaves or within structures accessible by vents is not similar to constrained environments where air movement is choked off, is antithetical to native bee nests.

These nuts are not conducting science.

Flunk those students for abusing wildlife through sheer arrogant ignorance.

Mickey Reno
Reply to  ozspeaksup
June 28, 2018 8:32 am

Reminds me of when alarmist greenies were yakking about the frogs dying because of human activity, and it turned out they were right. It was the researches themselves carrying and spreading the destructive Chytrid fungus around the world as they intruded into the environment of the at-risk frogs and amphibians. And thus proving themselves to be the very harbingers of illness and death that they claimed to be.

Patrick MJD
June 28, 2018 2:29 am

I, once, in the UK, transported 90K bees in my brand spanking new 1994 “M” reg Land Rover Discovery form somewhere in Hampshire to a friend’s farm in Cornwall. Three hives all different colours, can’t recall them. But I do recall they were not uniform in colour, they were all different.

The bees survived the trip, but a battle ensued once placed and opened with local populations, and a staggering number were either killed in territory “battles” or were dead on arrival and ejected from the hives.

Bill T
June 28, 2018 2:47 am

For the past about 25 years my hives have been painted Navy Blue (dark blue) which is close to black. They thrive.

I realize the study is of Mason Bees so things may be different, but I agree that it is a dumb study that fits well into “conformational bias”.

Reply to  Bill T
June 28, 2018 3:01 pm

Honey bees easily nest in very unlikely spots, including dark bark hollow trees.

Honey bees actively control ventilation to keep their hive temperatures controlled. Mason bees, or native bees, do not.
It is impossible for native bees to control their ventilation.

Here is a front view to a nest placed for native bees. (Native bees, Osmia are not unique to North America! They’re worldwide bees.)
comment image

As a counter example; here is a vent in a honeybee hive. The bees close the vent in winter and open the vent in summer with hive workers circulating air.

comment image?dl=0

Your last sentence nails the alleged study.

Reply to  ATheoK
June 28, 2018 3:11 pm

WordPress apparently refuses to recognize an image’s link, so I placed it as an active link within “bees close the vent…”

My apologies.

June 28, 2018 2:49 am

Very sensibly, Bee-Keepers usually paint their hives white. Honey bees are not picky about the color of their hives, however bees do not like paint on the inside of their hive.
Most hives are white, as white is good in warmer climates where the lighter colours will reflect daytime light and heat, and reduce heat loss at night, which the bees will like
Bees have enough problems to combat withou being subjected to insane theories of theirfuture extinction by Warmist Grant Seekers .

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
June 28, 2018 5:58 am

My guess is they painted them black…and cooked them

dodgy geezer
June 28, 2018 2:49 am

The researchers were aware, were they not, that bees have QUITE DIFFERENT COLOUR VISION to humans? They can see, for instance, in the ultraviolet, and they make extensive use of this colour vision in their daily tasks of searching out nectar-bearing flowers and returning to the hive.

I don’t know what the effects of a different coloured hive would be, but the bees would certainly have noticed it, and that effect needs to be determined before any further experiment.

I would simply have heated the hive walls with a hot pad. Less obtrusive and more controllable…

Reply to  dodgy geezer
June 28, 2018 5:48 am

Yes I was thinking black might be a very unnatural colour for their hive.
Perhaps it may have an effect on how easily the foragers can locate the entrance,
which would effect the hive health in general

June 28, 2018 2:57 am

“By painting another third with a white, reflective, cooling treatment, the team sent that third of the nests back in time to a climate similar to that of the 1950s”
comment image

What does “climate similar to that of the 1950s” mean?
How can a coat of paint recreate all the parameters that make up climate?

How do these studies get past peer review?

June 28, 2018 3:01 am

is a “non-negative” result a positive result?

Does that mean that the white painted hives did worse than the hives that were not painted at all?

In other words, temperatures from the 1950s were not as good for bees as temperatures today. That shouldn’t be a surprise if bees have adapted or evolved as temperatures have risen (have they in Arizona?) but the researchers seem remarkably coy about it?

June 28, 2018 3:10 am

Just how much hotter is a black nest internally? 2, 4, 10 C warmer? The fact bees live at the tropics and temperate zones shows how adaptable they are.

More immature science if you ask me.

Sam C Cogar
Reply to  MattS
June 28, 2018 9:31 am

When Honeybee hives get too warm on the inside, ……. the bees will set-up a “fan brigade” to cool the hive down.

Reply to  Sam C Cogar
June 28, 2018 12:35 pm

Not in this study they wouldn’t. There isn’t enough bees to set up a fan brigade or cluster and “vibrate” together to generate enough heat to survive during cold weather.

Sam C Cogar
Reply to  Darrin
June 29, 2018 4:20 am

So, Darrin, ….. iffen there is any cool/cold temps during the Spring or Summer ……. then all the bees die and the species goes extinct.

Brilliant conclusion, Darrin, just wonderful.

Reply to  Sam C Cogar
June 29, 2018 7:20 am

So Sam, go read the report again. Hive sizes from 2-15 bees each…not a lot of bees to modify hive temperature.

June 28, 2018 4:09 am

All these morons had to do was interview a group of apiarists – people who know more about bees than these “researchers” will ever know. But the apiarists don’t have degrees in bees, so anything they say is just – what? Hearsay? Bogus? Chitchat? Anecdotal?

Maybe if these “researchers” quit interfering and let Nature handle things, any “problems” (which they create) will resolve themselves. Oh, wait – what am I saying? They’d be out of grant money! Sorry. My bad.

Reply to  Sara
June 28, 2018 5:45 am

Sara, your comment reminds of a federal fisheries management public workshop I attended. The stated purpose was to get opinions from expert commercial fishermen. After a presentation by a government scientist fishermen started telling them why it wouldn’t work. After about the tenth captain, the technocrat was obviously getting angry and stood up and told the audience that the captains could not possibly know what they were talking about since they were all uneducated, at best the information they were providing was anecdotal. One of the captains then stood up and asked ‘have any of you at the front table ever been to sea?’ After sputtering a bit the answer was NO. Three of the captains in the room had PhDs in marine science, several other master degrees. Why they were doing research? They hated university and were never going to work for the government.

Reply to  Edwin
June 28, 2018 6:58 am

One of the greatest oxymorons in science is “anecdotal data.” It may not be as common as it once was, close to as dumb as I have heard like–“You can’t do science in a bucket.” I would like to know the effect of satellites, remote systems and ease of computer models on marine science. Even before then self-selection kept some from the sea. Ever see someone in the Navy get seasick? It happens.

These tools are great, but you still need to go to sea to solve the questions. Some realize this and still do, but may be lumped with those that don’t. Some of the better biologists came from commercial fishing families.

Just Jenn
June 28, 2018 4:30 am

WHAT THE LIVING—NO !!!!@@@@@@@!!!!!

Bloke down the pub
June 28, 2018 4:31 am

Anthony, what would your work on the surface station project indicate the difference in temperatures would be for the different shades of box? I’d have thought that they would have put a temperature probe and data logger in each box to track the changes.

Paul Maxit
June 28, 2018 4:35 am

Wrong. Colors (white or black) does not matter when it comes to IR radiations. Nature of the surface does (shiny, mate…).

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Paul Maxit
June 28, 2018 7:55 am

Yes, the visible color may have little or no relationship to the reflectance in IR or UV. Green leaves have a red fluorescence spike and high reflectance in NIR. This ‘research’ is little better than a middle-school science project.

James Bull
June 28, 2018 4:38 am

My limited experience of these bees is that they like sheltered locations for their nest sites (I have a bundle of cardboard tubes which are under the eaves of my garden shed) they each use one nest site and don’t form colonies as such, so taking them from where they had chosen to nest and putting them out in the open would in my view be akin to leaving your dog in a closed car on a sunny day.
Also as you point out,

So it seems possible that much of the damage to the bees in the black boxes was caused by colder night time temperatures, rather than warmer daytime temperatures.
(honey bees huddle together for warmth “solitary” bees find this a bit harder)

The nests were probably in a fairly sheltered location to start with but were then put in the open as the bees would not nest where conditions were not good for them.
In this they show more intelligence than those studying them!!!!

James Bull

Sam C Cogar
Reply to  James Bull
June 28, 2018 9:42 am

So it seems possible that much of the damage to the bees in the black boxes was caused by colder night time temperatures,

“NAH”, most any bee species that can survive the winter cold ….. can survive cool summer nights.

Ken Irwin
June 28, 2018 4:52 am

Bees are quite capable of “airconditioning” their hives – they can even generate enough heat to kill invasive predators by surrounding and “cooking” them.
Before opening a relocated hive, beekeepers listen to the sound is it “angry” or just “airconditioning” – don’t open an angry hive.
A black hive would certainly require they spend more energy on cooling in the daytime and warming of a night.
I’m guessing the fresh paint fumes were a bigger problem.
The whole thing sounds like a pile of preconception.

June 28, 2018 5:00 am

So they’ve proved the local heat island effect.

They’ve also proved that the bees are smarter than the researchers, as the bees are smart enough to make their nests in the shade.

My beehives were white, and I would wrap my hives in tarpaper in the winter so what sun we’d get would warm them a bit. Black is good.

Bruce Cobb
June 28, 2018 5:10 am

Hmmm, so what’s next? Hey, I know, let’s torture test some whales by putting them in an acid, warm bath, to “simulate” future conditions of the oceans! Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
June 29, 2018 4:49 am

Yep. Make sure you pick Minke whales because they go great BBQ’d and finished with grated puffin.

Ed Zuiderwijk
June 28, 2018 5:14 am

Poor experiment design.

Tom Gelsthorpe
June 28, 2018 5:27 am

Cook the bees now, and get it over with. Yeah! That makes a lotta sense.

June 28, 2018 5:28 am

If that is science then I wouldn’t make a scientist’s arse hole.

Smart Rock
June 28, 2018 5:31 am

Doing some simple scaling on their plot of maximum temperatures gives the following:

Highest temperature in control hive: 41.3°C

Highest temperature in black box: 47.5°C

Don’t know much about bees, but 47.5° is hotter than I’ve ever experienced, and might come close to killing me if I couldn’t get relief.

June 28, 2018 5:34 am

Eric’s conclusions have merit. I would also suggest that the black boxes would have not just caused the night time temperatures to be lower but dramatically increased the temperature range from day to night.

Also, I remember a little experiment with bees in South America that got out of hand. African bees were being crossed with European bees. If I remember correctly the cross, among other things, was far more temperature tolerant that European honey bees.

It seems there is a continual desire to explain away poor hive maintenance leading to hive collapse than improving the education of some bee keepers.

Reply to  Edwin
June 29, 2018 12:22 am

Not more temperature-tolerant. Less cold-tolerant. Which is why Africanized bees haven’t yet invaded all of North America, and are stalled somewhere along boundary of winters that get below around 20F.

old white guy
June 28, 2018 5:35 am

Baking bees in their hives should be a tremendous success.

Reply to  old white guy
June 28, 2018 9:27 am

And a crime. Has PETA been informed?

June 28, 2018 5:39 am

“In a two-year, in situ field experiment that altered the temperature of the bees’ nests to simulate a warmer, future climate, 35 percent of bees died in the first year and 70 percent died in the second year. This is compared to a 1-2 percent mortality rate in the control group.”

Doesn’t this indicate that the normal life span for bees is 50 to 100 years? I’d be skeptical if someone told me that. What is the normal lifespan for a bee? I’d be willing to bet that in any group mortality is more than 1 to 2%.

Dan Briggs
Reply to  DonK31
June 28, 2018 6:31 am

Average lifespan for a Mason Bee is 4~6 weeks. Honey Bees ~ 17.5 weeks.
Piss poor experiment!

Cheers from Not Yet Warm Montana!

June 28, 2018 5:46 am

This is a ridiculously bad design of experiment.

June 28, 2018 6:09 am

Sure. As we all know, there are no bees in hot climates… /sarc

June 28, 2018 7:07 am

The real problem here is in the details — given in the study. Here’s their temperature logging data with some annotations:
comment image
They have simply baked the bees… median internal nest daily max temperatures 105°F and some days as high as 120°F. If I remember my beekeeping guidelines right, anything over 100°F is dangerous for bee larvae and drives honeybees out to cluster around the hive beating their wings in an attempt to cool it.
Note that median control maximum nest temp was around 91.5°F, that’s 13°F/8°C less than the black box, and within safe temperatures for bees.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
June 28, 2018 10:51 am

Baked bees. Sounds tasty. NOT ! Dumb a**es.

John Bell
June 28, 2018 7:31 am


June 28, 2018 7:40 am

From the study, did it ever state what the interior temperatures were of the hives? Making it black would almost be a solar oven

Reply to  Matthew W
June 28, 2018 7:46 am

Matthew ==> See the graph from the study above == Baked Bees

Reply to  Matthew W
June 28, 2018 9:28 am

Their temp graph,

comment image

June 28, 2018 7:50 am

As a kid my father kept bee hives on our farm, loaned by a local beekeeper. He always sited them so that they were in shade during the warmest portion of the day by positioning them north of a tree or tree line and within the shade of the trees. One thing I clearly remember is that the bees that established a new nest in the spring always located a spot in the shade of a wooded area and never in an area as depicted in the picture above. Not a beekeeper but bees do not want a hive in an area where the honey will melt out of the hive in the heat of the day. Also seems strange that their experiment creates a false warmness that has a more extreme temperature range than will be in any future climate.

Also the text above says 2 to 15 bees. ????? must be a mistake. Have never seen a hive with just two bees.

Robert Clemenzi
Reply to  UzUrBrain
June 28, 2018 1:55 pm

Mason bees are solitary and do not produce honey. They were cooking the eggs and immature bees, not the adults.

Andy Pattullo
June 28, 2018 7:51 am

The authors have demonstrated that changing the temperature of the hive alters survival – big surprise! They seem to be ignoring the fact that social insects are evolved to seek favourable sites and build hives which are carefully ventilated and climate controlled by design. Forcing the bees into hives and conditions they would not have selected normally is not a measure of how they would survive through ever changing climate – something they have proven capable of by their very success in our current world.

June 28, 2018 7:57 am

Einstein – Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.
And this study proves that.

June 28, 2018 8:03 am

LOL @ Worrall, winner of the “Let me show you I know nothing about IR radiation Award”

“the black painted boxes would also have radiated heat faster at night.”

Total FAIL

June 28, 2018 8:50 am

‘”The experiment included 90 nests total, each housing anywhere from 2 to 15 bees”.

Not a normal nest in the bunch.

Jim Whelan
June 28, 2018 8:53 am

It sounds like the entire results are over mortality rate and the size of the bees. But here seems to be no reduction in population or level of honeyn production. That implies several things:

1. Queen egg laying rate went up!

2. Honey production went up but was ignored because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

3. The researchers cherry picked the results which could be used to cast a negative light on warming, ignoring those that didn’t. After, all they wanted to be published, an impossibility for anti-warming papers in the warming dominated peer review culture.

June 28, 2018 9:20 am

Mommy, what’s for dinner tonight?
Well dear your father brought home a surprise from work. Guess what it is?
Not baked bees again? Yuk!

Bill McCarter
June 28, 2018 9:29 am

That is the most ridiculous of experiments. Do Mason bees exist in different climates and how big are the relative populations. If Mason bees exist in a hot desert like Tuscon. Then the experimenters are just pounding sand.

June 28, 2018 10:42 am

Sorry, but my first impression is that this is the most stupid-ass thing I’ve ever read.

Creating a black-box solar heater out of a bee hive will kill the bees in it. Duh !!!

The … “researchers” [loud clearing of throat] who did this should be charged with animal cruelty, … and add criminal stupidity fraudulently advertised as science.

Oh, … and I liked someone’s suggestion to conduct infant survival tests with variously colored cars, windows rolled up, sitting in the sun. And, hey, let’s do one for pet dogs too. I’m gonna get my grants written on up now. Remember, I’m doin’ reesurch four fucher climit mpaks.

Patrick Powers
June 28, 2018 10:56 am

Even without all the lunacies in experimentation (like forgetting the cooler nights) why should any scientist expect a species to be able to accommodate to a sudden different climate in two years? We are paying money for studies like this – money that should have gone elsewhere.

June 28, 2018 11:11 am

Another variable is the use of latex and acrylic coatings.

June 28, 2018 11:16 am

I did my own experiment to simulate the rising seas and threw ten hives in a pond with weights on, any old large piece of iron works and doesn’t effect the results. My study finds that wetter conditions push bees to their physiological limits and will drive local extinction.

Reply to  richard
June 28, 2018 11:24 am

And, inspired by your water experiment, I did a wind experiment by setting up bee hives in front of an air-tunnel fan, but, if you want to repeat it, any ol’ powerful fan will do. My study found that high winds push bees to their physiological limits and will drive local extinction.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
June 28, 2018 11:27 am

Then I placed ESTABLISHED hives in boiling water to simulate future ocean heating, and my study found … you guessed it … higher water temperatures push bees yadah, yahdah, yadah.

Baked or boiled, them cooked bees are just good science.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
June 28, 2018 11:54 am

Robert , what kind of weights were you attaching to the hives in your experiment for the boiling water? did you find any difference in your results?- I didn’t.

Reply to  richard
June 28, 2018 1:37 pm

For weights, I used large burlap sacks of horse manure (thoroughly saturated), secured with hemp rope (I forget the gauge — but that’s not critical to the experiment’s outcome).

I allowed my transgender assistant to attach the hemp ropes, and I enlisted the help of a woman’s sensitivity group to tabulate the results, … by hand, using recycled paper and carbon-free pencils with a non-lead-based-paint coating. All observations were made during the day, so as to avoid the need for fossil-fuel-powered illumination at night.

I wish I could say that no animals were harmed in the carrying out of this study, but, well, … this was killin’ for a good cause, and so I’m sure the animal rights folks will let it slide this time.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
June 29, 2018 12:32 pm

“…[T]his was killin’ for a good cause…”

Yes, ‘the end justifies the meanness.’ 🙂

June 28, 2018 11:52 am

Sounds like what they have done is to place wild animals in un-natural man-made accomodations. Mason bees are not kept in hives for honey as are European bees, even though people do build artificial habitat for them to nest in. In the wild they live in rotting wood, which is often in shaded areas and is never jet black.
And unlike some researchers, insects aren’t completely stupid and illogical – they always seek out the most suitable places to nest.
This would be like putting out a bunch of bird houses (out in the open) and painting some black, and then wondering why there were fried eggs in the black boxes! Bird houses can be quite helpful to songbirds, but again, they are man-made nesting options, and birds, like bees, find that some types are much more habitable than are others.

June 28, 2018 12:08 pm

Those 2040-2099 temperatures are about an order of magnitude greater than any reasonable worst case scenario.

June 28, 2018 1:48 pm

could have gotten same result by just tossing them into a microwave.
would have taken less time too

June 28, 2018 1:53 pm


Mike Borgelt
June 28, 2018 4:10 pm

The feeble minded playing at being scientists. Is there nobody who can review experimental design properly?

June 29, 2018 12:08 am

And I’m like… seriously? Cuz speaking from long experience as both a desert rat and working for a beekeeper, there are plenty of honeybees (both wild and commercial hives) in the SoCal desert, where daytime temps can exceed 120F, with a nighttime drop of as much as 70F degrees.

Further, while the interior AIR temperature of their blackened hives went up by some 10C degrees (what’s that, about 22F ?? when your ambient air temp is already 110-120F, that’s a LOT!!), the inner surface of a black-painted board can go up by ~40F degrees or more, which would change the bees’ activity patterns to avoid what is now killing heat.

What they really measured was “What if the sun was half-again more intense and cooked the cr*p out of everything in sight?” NOT “What if the ambient air temperature went up a couple of degrees, per the most dire predictions?”

(I know they were using native bees under insanely stupid and unnatural conditions, but the object is to frighten us with the imminent demise of the honeybee, without which we’ll all starve, native bees that honeybees pushed out having somehow failed to pollinate stuff before their rivals got imported.)

June 29, 2018 12:49 am

What part of Physics do they not understand? Oh yeah, radiation!

The ability to emit and the ability to absorb are pretty much equal (Kirchhoff). The bees in the black box likely froze during the winter when the temperature dropped, does the study mention when the die offs occurred?

Painting things white or black has little effect indoors. It has a huge effect outdoors due to solar absorption differences, hence the large amount of white tanks you see at refineries and white roofs (high solar reflection, high infrared emissivity) on buildings to control energy costs.

Wasted study, probably taxpayer funded…

Jane Doe
Reply to  Photoncounter
July 2, 2018 12:14 pm

I’m afraid that they understand it better than you do.

Kirchhof’s Law is wavelength-specific. For absorption, in this case, the relevant wavelength is around 500 nm, in the visible spectrum. For emittance, the relevant wavelength range is around 10,000 nm.

Spectral emissivity can vary a lot when comparing across different regions of the spectrum. There is no reason to assume that the black-painted box has a higher emissivity than the white-painted box does, in the thermal infrared. In general the thermal-infrared emissivity of paint is unrelated to its color.

It worries me a bit that your name is “photoncounter.” This is something that an actual photon counter ought to know.

michael hart
June 29, 2018 3:16 am

Perhaps the busiest, most productive, bees stay out late working at the office to bring home the nectar.
If beehives are painted black then it makes it harder for them to find their way home after sunset.

And I’ve got a sophisticated state-of-the-art computer program to prove it, available to anyone willing to pay.

June 29, 2018 12:36 pm

The difference between this experiment and actual science is like the difference between night and day.

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