Flow bees wanted to get in on the Movember action this year and have been bearding around their Flow Hives.
Although we’ve made this cute link to Movember (especially with Northern NSW temperatures soaring to mid 30°C well-before summer, which resulted in many hives developing this look-alike characteristic), bearding bees, in fact, have nothing to do with facial hair.
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 to form properly) and ambient humidity for nectar to be evaporated to honey.
Bees bearding on a particularly hot and humid day
Bearding bees can often be confused with 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:
Indicators your colony might be preparing to swarm
Bearding is normal bee behaviour. 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, beekeeping club/association/society, or ask the friendly Flow community forum.