Bearding and ventilation. I'm worried

Hi All,

I have three Flow hives (four with a recent anemic swarm capture that is an old polystyrene hive), and the population of two of them exploded early and they swarmed before I could do anything about it. Those two hives are slowly recovering and the third hive is doing very well but bearding like absolute crazy (photo below). Does anyone have suggestions for providing better ventilation? I know bearding is normal, but this seems extreme to me.

I have Flow hives with two 8-frame deeps below a queen excluder and the honey super, so they should have plenty of room. Here’s a photo. It was 90+ degrees on this day and the hive was in the sun – but I’m worried.

Many thanks in advance – it’s been years since I’ve kept bees and I wasn’t much good at it then, either.


I drilled a hole in the gabled roof front (same side as the entrance) about 1" diameter for this purpose and put one of those bee round flat metal things that let me close it up or reduce the air flow depending on season/weather.


The bearding is happening because of too much heat inside the hive. A quick and effective fix is to add a vent to each end of the gable roof. What I use I found at my local hardware shop as “kitchen cupboard vents”, not fashionable now but your grand mothers kitchen had them in every cupboard door. They have a lattice that prevents bees going through.
Some shade would be a help from the heat of the afternoon sun.
To make the hive cooler you might consider painting the roof white to reflect the sun. Where I am you wouldn’t find a bee hive that isn’t painted white, it is all about keeping the hives as cool as possible for their comfort.

considering you have had two hives swarm already- have you done an inspection in the third to see what the bees are up to? In spring when populations explode- swarming follows. If you look inside the brood boxes and find queen cells then your hive is about to swarm. If they already have developed queen cells you can do a last ditch Tarnov split to manage the swarm which is no pretty much inevitable. If the bees have only just started making queen cups- you could do a walk away split. Splitting a hive weakens it out for a short period- but in the long run you often end up with more bees as the population will build up very fast and not swarm. You could also recombine the bees later to make a very strong hive.

I have learned through bitter experience that you really need to be pro-active during swarm season if you want to get the best possible harvests and save yourself some heart ache…

Bearding on its own is not a major cause for concern- bees will beard when the weather is warm and the population high. Your beard is nothing to major- I have had much larger with no ill affect to the bees. But it can be a sign that the hive is doing a little too well for comfort. It is counter-intuitive but at times a large population can be a cause for concern and a sign of swarms to come…

I have had my best hive go to being my worst hive in one hour after a mega swarm issues from it. It can take a whole season to recover sometimes. I now plan to be super vigilant immediately before and during the entire swarm season. It is the one time of the year when beekeepers must work the most- to guarantee a good honey season.

Having three boxes may seem like a lot of room- but a hive with three boxes can still swarm. Simply adding more space is no guarantee a hive will not swarm. The only guarantee you can have is if you look inside and know exactly what the bees are up to. Also if the hive fills with honey then there won’t actually be much room. So harvesting regularly if the hive fills is important. Harvesting helps keep the bees busy and frees up space.