When was the picture taken? That's a lot of bees to be outside the hive at the time of your post (4:58pm). I'd be concerned about that. What is the configuration of your hives? Maybe you have lazy bees or perhaps they may be overcrowded. Mine don't stop until its about dark. I've got two hives that are 3 deeps and 2 mediums and I don't get that type of bearding at night.
this is called bearding, the bee's are moving outside like the others said and are cooling off for a while, mine do this around 5:30 to 9pm, even more at the later hour. you could build a front porch for them and that would help them even more, it would keep them off the bottom and crawling over the front. or you could buy one from mannlake bee supply. my front porch is larger than theirs and my bee's seem to love it. they all go back in after the sun goes down and the cool summer air comes in.
yes they will go back in after they have cooled the hive down and pulled the humidity out, they will hang out there until this happens. i live in the deep south and its very humid and hot, i'm talking about the 98 to 100's, with 105 to 110 heat index! so don't worry to much its their natural way of cooling the hive down before letting everybody in. thats what i was told by my mentor. if i can upload a photo i'll show you what i'm talking about.
some times but from your photo, i would guess not, from my mentor, he says usually if they are going to swarm, they will make a loud humming sound, kinda like they are being disturbed. kinda like the sound they make when you do an inspection of the hive, when they are in a good mood and working hard they make a calm soothing humming noise, but when they are disturbed they pick up the humming to a higher level, this is what to listen for, but in your case i wouldn't worry right now. another way to check is to do an inspection of the lower brood box, check for queen cells hanging on the outside of the frames, they will be very noticeable, kinda long and hanging, very distinct looking form the rest of the brood.
I did see queen cells but not with larva in them. When I was expecting them they were loud. I think will add another super tomorrow to give them some more space - they had some room still to fill in the super I have on now but I want to make sure they have enough space.
Thanks so much for the replies, I love this forum.
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