Wednesday, May 23, 2012
This is called "Bearding" and it occurs when the hive is too hot. In the summertime a hive stays a constant 95 - 97 degrees. On hot days, to cool a crowded hive, bees will encourage air flow by moving to the outside of the hive. Inside, water droplets are brought in and the brood chamber is cooled as the droplets collect the heat as the bees fan their wings over the water. The evaporated water is then ushered out of the hive reducing the temperature inside.
The opening to this beehive is too small and there is probably not enough room inside. When a home becomes over-crowded the bees inside begin preparations to find a bigger home - or "swarm". For more about swarming read THIS ARTICLE.
Today I'll open this hive, inspect all the frames to look for queen cells - an indication of a pending swarm, remove any I find, add a queen excluder, and place an empty honey box on top, giving the hive more space and making it easier for the bees to regulate the temperature in the brood chamber, which is generally the larger bottom box of a hive body.