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Bearding: are my bees going to swarm?

Summer is officially here and it’s HOT. If you’re noticing your bees all clustered on the front of the hive, you might have a few questions like, what are they doing? Are they going to swarm? Do I need to do anything to stop this? The answer is pretty simple: they’re trying to cool off. And you don’t need to do anything except sit back and enjoy watching what beekeepers call “bearding.”

Bees “bearding” the entrance of the hive to cool it off

Beading happens when bees form what looks like a beard at the entrance of the hive. If it’s hot outside, your bees will be hot inside their hive, too. Especially during the peak of the day. And just like you, they are looking for a way to cool off, so they head outside for some fresh air. And by removing a lot of body heat from the hive, they can quickly cool it down. The bees also use their wings to fan the entrance of the hive, pushing cooler air in, which helps lower the internal temperature of the hive. Each hive is different, so don’t expect all of your hives to react the same way to the heat.

Bearding is a sign of a strong colony and good health. It means that your bee population is considerable and perhaps, prepared for winter. They are keeping the honey at the correct temperature by pushing air into the hive to control the internal temperature.

There are variances in bearding and swarming. When honey bees are bearding they will be calm, collected, and in unison around the entrance on a hot day. Swarming is generally on a warm, moderate day. With swarming, large quantities of bees will be moving rapidly.

To help prevent swarming, make sure that your bees have enough room to grow and work in the hive. You will know if you need to add supers by keeping up the regular inspection of your hive. Adequate space is a significant key to avoid swarming and to keep them building and filling comb.

But if you see your bees hanging out by the entrance on a hot day, you can rest assured they’re just cooling off and enjoying a hot summer day!

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