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!

6 thoughts on “Bearding: are my bees going to swarm?

  1. Jim

    I have this going on today. It is dark out and the beard is larger now. It goes from the top box to the ground. It was hot and humid today.

  2. Craig Gregory

    I was very worried about this too and came to the realization this is what bees do. I was considering using my lawn sprinkler to assist in cooling but decided to let the bees do what they have been doing for thousands of years.

  3. Valeria Tolputt

    When bees beard is it usual for them to hang in long single file in head to tail strings down the front of the hive, even in the cool of the following morning after a hot day?

  4. Paul George

    What about bearding in early morning in the spring? New hive 70 degree day 50 degree night.
    This is a large swarm collected a couple weeks ago here in Idaho.

  5. Richard Koontz -

    We’ve had bees beard in the past but now we have 2 hives side by side and the one has a small beard almost always; the other none. I first noticed this on a hot, 90f, day a few weeks ago but now it’s cooler. I noticed a small cluster of bees by the entrance yesterday evening when it was barely 70f. This morning the group is bigger and it is under 60f. These hives were both started with nucs beginning of April. Both have one super in place. Not too worried but seems unusual since it’s been cool for sometime.

  6. Dana

    I have 2 hives side by side and we have had a hot string of days lately. Both hives are heavily bearded 6:30 am and it dissipates as the day progresses?
    When I water my raised beds I also take a full watering can and rain down on the hives gently and fill their watering plate. They seem to be fine with it but I’m not sure if the added moisture is a problem?