During the beginning of spring and summer, plenty of beginner beekeepers ask about the behaviour where bees cluster right outside the hive.
“Am i doing something wrong? What are they doing? Are they going to swarm? Is this normal?”
This activity is called bearding. This is a term used to describe the bees behaviour when they all cluster together, forming a beard shape just right outside the entrance of the hive. Here’s why they do it.
Why are bees my bearding?
Bearding is a normal behaviour of bees, especially during warm weather. It’s actually a good sign that your beehive is strong and healthy! They do this especially if they’ve been storing and producing honey at a very fast pace. To keep the honey at the correct temperature and allow air flow inside the hive, a group of bees will beard right outside the entrance of the hive to help maintain the internal temperature of the hive. You’ll also see some of them fanning their wings, creating extra airflow inside the hive during extreme hot weather conditions.
With that in mind, you can conclude that bearding is a sign of a strong colony with a large population. You could also tell by bearding that the beehive has overwintered successfully!
Although each beehive is different. Not all hives will display the same amount of bees bearding.
Things to Consider
While bearding may be a good display of health, it’s good to check whether or not your bees have enough space in the hive. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do they have enough space to store more honey?
- Does the queen have enough space to lay some more brood?
To check if they have enough space, see if there are any empty frames available for both honey storage and brood laying. If you have plenty of frames that are full but no empty ones, it might be time to add another box in! If bees do not have enough space, they will most likely feel overcrowded eventually and may decide to swarm. It also affects their productivity and most of them will be left with nothing to work on.
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