July is a great month to be a bee. This is the time of year that beekeepers refer to as the honeyflow. This is when flowers are in full bloom, nectar is abundant and the air is full of the sweet aroma of summer.
Bees will make dozens of trips into the urban jungle each day, visiting their favorite nectar sources. They will deposit the nectar in the wax comb where it will eventually become honey. They will also tell their sisters where they found the nectar, enticing them to join in on the bounty.
July is also hot. Hotter than a billy goat in a pepper patch. When the humidity rises with the temperature, bees will instinctively ventilate their hive. Incredibly, they line up in front of their hive entrance and beat their wings, creating a powerful breeze that flows through the stacks of honeycomb.
To improve ventilation on particularly hot days, thousands of bees will step outside the hive to create more room and to reduce heat build-up. This is called bearding. It is a natural and normal thing for bees to do. It does not indicate overcrowding or swarming, though it can look alarming the first time you notice it.
If you see bees covering your hive on a hot day, think cool thoughts and watch them do what they do best: make honey.