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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am working in the field now and one of the sites I work at is home to about 30 hives from a local commercial beekeeper. The hives are stacked 6 deep hive bodies/supers high for the big flows that are happening now.

When I got to the site this morning - the conditions were wet and cold. It had rained overnight, was overcast and temps were in the mid-50's.

Because I can't help myself, I always do a walk around his hives just to see what is going on in commercial bee world. This morning, as expected, most of his bees were tucked in the boxes, given how cold and wet it was. However, one hive had bees bearded all over the front of the box. There were a lot of bees out this way and the cluster was both broad and several bees deep. They were calm and not moving much.

Does anyone know what is going on with them? Is this a prelude to swarming? I have never seen so many bees willingly exposing themselves to such wet cold conditions. Any insight is appreciated. Thanks.

Mike
 

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i would say its just a very strong hive
 

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I would guess it was warm the night before and they went from beard to cluster, rather than move inside. It was probably still too hot to go in, but cold outside, so they went into "winter" cluster to stay warm.
 

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given your description if the cluster was exposed to cold and rain of any quantity this typically leads to the bees dying fairly promptly.
 

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All 16 of my hives were bearded this morning and the weather here is the same. They always beard here when its cloudy and very humid. They know how to regulate the temp. and humidity and thats just what they are doing. No worries about swarming, I'd say they are trying to get the humidity down so they can cap some honey.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks all for replies. Based on what was offered, I would guess now that it was the result of a very strong hive regulating humidity more than temperature. It has been pretty wet here (for here) lately.
 

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I have some bees that beard only at night, even though it's close to 100 degrees during the day they won't beard until nightfall. I keep thinking "don't you know you're not supposed to do that?" but then I remember that these bees have survived the last few years without any chemical treatments and with little to no help from me... so I guess I'll let them decide what they're supposed to be doing, because they're obviously doing something right.
 
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