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Bees fanning entrance and it is not even hot outside yet


The temperature where I live is peaking in the low 80s F these days. In my area, during the hottest parts of the summer, peak temperatures will get up to 110 F. Even though it is only 80 degrees in the afternoon, the bees are already fanning the entrance.

My concern is that I have the entrance reduced too much. I have a metal entrance reducer that has 7 bee sized holes in it. The idea was to prevent mice from entering the hive and protect the hive from robbing at the same time. Now, I worry that in my area’s hot climate, my approach will not allow for enough airflow for the bees. I am thinking of switching to a screen type robbing preventer that will maximize entrance airflow while preventing robbing and protecting against mice. (I would probably reduce the entrance in the winter)

Can I get ya’lls opinion?



Are they ventilating or wafting Nasanov pheromone so that foraging bees can find their way home? It looks fairly similar.


How do I tell the difference?


When they fan scent they kind of stick their butt in the air, and can be a ways away from the entrance.

Repositioned hive, will my bees be okay?

With the Nasanov waft, you can see a little white gland stick out on the end of their butts, and their little butts will be up in the air.

Like this:


As compared to ventilating where their butts are lower and closer to the entrance.


@adagna, @Dawn_SD. I walked out to the hive to check but, it has cooled off and the bees were not going it (6pm where I am at). I am 95% confident it was ventilation and not pherimone fanning, as I am 90% sure zero butts were raised and 100% sure all fanning was right next to the holes in the entrance reducer .

It even looks like bees are trying to chee the wood around the entrance o make it bigger.

For the sake of expediting this discussion, let us assume they were fanning for ventilation.


Remove the reducer in the morning and see if the behavior abates?


Ventilating is normal behavior, it seems from memory that bearding is more of a sign of over heating then simply ventilation at the entrance.


Fanning is normal during a nectar flow. They are likely curing nectar (evaporating moisture) and need the breeze. Close the screened bottom if you use one.


Fanning is not just done to cool the hive. It is how the colony breathes. Without active ventilation they would all die of asphyxiation. They can ventilate quite well through one small opening, but it takes bees to do the work…


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I have some probing questions…

In your opinion is 7 bee sized holes too restricted for a hive with two full brood boxes during the peak of the summer? Or… how can I tell if the entrance is too restricted?

I would think that congestion at the entrance is one indicator, but, that cannot be the only indication. Isn’t it entirely possible that the bees have enough space to not be congested but too little space to efficiently manage the hive temperature?


If I were doing that I would put them all in a row. Huber’s research would indicate that too many entrances actually make them work harder at ventilating. They can do quite fine with one small entrance.

Certainly an entrance only big enough for one bee on a booming colony is going to cause issues… but most of my colonies now have an entrance about 3/8" tall and 2" wide and they do quite well.


I think that is what I needed to hear. Do you know if your “most hives” comment applies to hives in my climate? Summers that reach 110 degrees F?


Well 110 F is not unheard of here… but it is not common. 100 F is more common (most summers we get a week or so of it) but in recent years, with “global warming” we have not been that hot in quite some time. Upper 90s though are very common. But also keep in mind that the bees have to cool the hive and that requires CONTROLLED ventilation. If it’s 110 F outside, the brood nest needs to stay 93 F. That requires COOLING not excess ventilation…


With my limited understanding of thermodynamics… the bees will need a minimum amount of ventilation to cool a hive. The ventilation is required to remove humidity. Swamp cooling (bees evaporating water inside of the hive) will stop working if the air becomes too humid. So… there must be a point in which a beek can limit the hive entrance too much. So much that the bees are unable to move humid air out of the hive fast enough.


Certainly it could be too small. Nothing is definitely too small… mine are on the top and moist air rises, so the moisture tends to go out the top anyway, but the bees manage in trees and such to cool hives with very small openings. Sometimes as small as 1/2" in diameter. Skeps typically had very small entrances and they did fine in those as well. I think too large is a much more likely problem especially the way beekeepers think…


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Would a couple toothpick under hive top to lift help ventilation issues?