Learn about bearding and beekeeping with the help of Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
If you’re new to beekeeping, you might notice your bees clustering around the front of their hive. It’s actually a normal thing that a strong colony of bees do, called “bearding.” However, bees gathering around the front of the hive can also indicate swarming. Learn more about bearding, swarming and caring for your bees with Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
What is Bearding?
Bees form what looks like a beard around the entrance of their hive. Most of the time, this is a totally normal thing for your bee colony to do. As your bees start storing and ripening honey, they need to keep it at a certain temperature. To get the right air flow and temperature in the hive, a group of adult bees will cluster around the hive entrance, keeping the hive’s internal temperature cool. Some bees may even fan their wings to keep air flowing into the hive.
Bearding vs Swarming
While bearding is normal, it’s important to determine if your bees are actually bearding or if they’re preparing to swarm. Swarming is when your queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees. If your bees are swarming, you can lose a large part of your colony. Swarming typically happens when the beehive becomes too crowded and the bees don’t have enough room to create stores of honey.
To determine what your bees are doing, there are a few questions you have to answer:
- Are your bees lined up at the hive entrance, all facing the same direction and fanning their wings?
- Is it warmer than normal outside?
- Is there enough room in your hive?
- Are their queen cells in your hive?
If your bees are simply cooling off the hive on an exceptionally hot day, you have nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if your bees have a crowded hive and are starting to gather around the entrance, you need to make more room for your bees. You can start gathering honey to free up more room for stores. You can also split your hive to give your bees the room they need.
Bearding is normal for a strong colony. As long as your bees have enough room for stores and to continue building, your hive will be fine.
At Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you can find all the beekeeping supplies you need. From protective beekeeping clothing to beehives, you’ll be ready to start beekeeping and reap the sweet rewards of honey and beeswax. For more tips on caring for your bees, visit our Beekeeping blog.