Too Hot in the Beeyard?

Dealing with the heat & humidity in the beeyards of SC

 headshot Rauschby Andrew Rausch

In South Carolina doing any amount of work in the bee yard during the months of June, July, and August is a guaranteed way of eliciting the unwanted salt water bath. I don’t mind heat, but I am strongly averse to its symptoms of drenched clothing and a lack of energy . . . so I guess you could say that I do mind heat but pretending to not mind it somehow makes it easier to deal with. So, feeling the way I do, I set an elusive goal of finding a way to stay as cool in the bee yard with a bee-jacket on as I would have been were I jacket-free and able to catch a passing breeze – because sometimes not wearing a bee jacket is not an option.

Well, that did turn out to be a bit of a high and lofty goal and not 100% achievable, but * * * DRUM ROLL PLEASE * * * I have found that with the combined use of a vented jacket and Black Ice Personal CoolSwap™ Wraps, I stay MUCH cooler. This is not to say that I don’t sweat, I’m still proficient at that (after all, how else would I know that I had done an honest day’s work?) but it has certainly done a lot to improve my morale and energy level. I can actually work with bees all day and come home simply tired but not utterly wiped out. I think most beekeepers know what a vented jacket is (if not, find a beekeeper buddy and ask—they probably know), but I would venture to guess that not as many know what a Black Ice Personal CoolSwap™ Wrap is, so I’ll explain (with some help from their website and my own comments interspersed

Black Ice is a comfortable two-piece personal cooling system worn on the neck. It comes with a soft neoprene wrap and detachable (hook-and-loop fasteners) cooling pack that delivers regulated 57°F cooling with a quick 20 minute recharge (so get 2 packs so you can switch them out).

Because some of you will have questions about Black Ice’s Personal Cooling Products, here are some FAQ straight from their website:

What’s inside the Black Ice Personal Cooling Pack?

Smart Ice, the coolant contained inside the Black Ice Personal Cooling Pack, is a molecular alloy formulated to produce a 57°F temperature output once “charged.” The material is chemically classified as a light mineral oil, so if you were to break a pack open (please don’t do that), you would find a very thin, oily liquid.

How do you recharge Black Ice?

You can recharge Black Ice Personal Cooling Packs in any of three ways*:

  • Refrigerator (approximately 3 hr. recharge time)
  • Freezer (approximately 1 hr. recharge time)
  • Ice water (approximately 20 min. recharge time) ßBEST WAY to recharge—put the “thawed” pack in your cooler of ice water and it will be ready before you are ready to switch them over again.
  • [PERSONAL NOTE: I keep a soft-sided cooler in the freezer with a small amount of water inside, and then when I am ready to work outside, I add a little water to have ice water for my cooling packs]

Why does it only take 20 min. to recharge a Black Ice in ice water? Since the freezer is much colder, shouldn’t the freezer charge a pack faster?

Good question–and there is a massively complex answer. But since heat transfer is a job we leave to the engineers and their annoying little calculators, we’re going to paraphrase here (Please don’t tell the engineers–They really hate the term paraphrase. . . .): Thanks to the physics of heat transfer, water transfers heat much more efficiently than air. That means heat is pulled from the pack faster in ice water, which makes it charge quicker.

Now, I know that some of you deal with the heat-humidity duo better than others, but a quick reminder of the warning signs of too much heat would be good for all of us. I personally know of an experienced beekeeper who suffered some of the more serious warning signs just last summer – let’s be proactive and avoid heat-related problems. The following symptoms and helpful hints are from

Symptoms of too much heat that indicate corrective action is necessary:

Dizziness, cramps or involuntary spasms of the muscles (usually in the legs), headache, nausea, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, loss of coordination, confusion or restlessness

Helpful Hints:

  • First, stay hydrated – 75% of the body’s weight is due to H2O. (No, I do not know the percentage after a day of sweating in the bee yard but if you drink enough, it should be about the same.)
  • Second, wear appropriate clothing and implement cooling measures. (Vented suits and Black Ice helped me.)
  • Third, be mindful that when air temperatures are above 95°F and the humidity is high, the body’s natural cooling mechanism is less effective, potentially allowing a rapid rise in body temperature that can result in damage to the brain and/or other vital organs. (Sound like SC to anyone besides me?)


Stay Cool, Stay Safe

*In case some of you are wondering, I do own 4 Black Ice Personal CoolSwap™ Wraps (in 2 colors) and I have 10 of the recharge packs and 2 of the soft-sided coolers – all bought and paid for by me. Do I believe in the product? Probably – just kidding, obviously I do! And no, I do not get anything for promoting them except for knowing that in the check-in packets for the annual summer meeting held in Clemson this July 23-25, there will be a picture of me wearing one and a discount code for you.

Contact Information:
Andrew Rausch
Address: 1362 Gravley Rd
City & State: Pickens, SC  29671
Phone: 864-878-3706

Andrew is a SC State Member and SCBA Update & INFO contributor

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