The summer of 2022 has witnessed a prolonged period of high temperatures. It’s not surprising to receive numerous reports of bees accumulating outside of the tree hives and concern that there was something wrong or they are about to swarm.
This is a natural phenomenon known as ‘bearding’. The bees are trying to maintain optimum conditions within the nest space for processing nectar and rearing brood.
Honey ripening involves reducing the water content of the nectar to around 18%. Air currents play an important role in regulating the correct temperature for this process, hence bees can be seen accumulating outside of the hive to create the space to facilitate this.
Beekeepers often feel the need to ventilate their hives in these conditions, but this can be counterproductive. The heat used to evaporate the excess water in the nectar would be lost to the atmosphere.
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