Bearding is a term referring to bees accumulating at the front of the hive, in a beard-like shape. Bees do this to make room inside the hive for added ventilation on a hot and humid day. Both the temperature and humidity within the hive is kept to a precise percentage, for both the brood (they require temperatures 32-36C / 90-97F to form properly) and ambient humidity for nectar to be evaporated to honey.
Bearding bees can often be confused for a hive preparing to swarm, however, bearding bees look slightly different to a hive about to swarm.
Here are some differences between bearding bees and swarm preparations:
Bearding is normal bee behavior. If you have concerns and feel unsure about whether your hive is simply bearding or preparing to swarm, we recommend getting in touch with a local beekeeping mentor, or beekeeping club/association/society, or ask the friendly Flow community forum.