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i went out to check the syrup level on the feeder just now, and found the bees bearding - not a huge beard, but much larger than i've seen it since the triple-digit days this summer. they haven't bearded at all in weeks, at least not that i've noticed. it's in the 60s today, breezy and overcast. the entrance is reduced (has been for a couple of weeks) and the SBB is still open. it seems to be business as usual for the girls who can get through the beard. is this normal, do you think?

and totally unrelated, on my way back to the house i passed the empty nuc boxes that i ordered recently, and stopped short when a wren darted out from between them, not three feet from me. we both froze and just stood there looking at each other, until it eventually flew off. much too late for nesting, and i doubt a wren could jam her way into a nuc box anyway, but has anyone had other creatures (besides rodents, i guess) take up residence in their empty boxes? will i open these things up in spring to find baby birds, bats, wasps, feral cats, or hobos?
 

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I had huge beards when reducing the entrances, but then realized that I should wait till dark to reduce, then it went better.

Aside from the venomous ducks, the most likely I'd think would be mice(but you excepted that). Unless you mean late spring, then there might be wasps and wax moths. Or hobos, they can damage a lot of boxes quick when they try to crawl into them.
 

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... a wren darted out from between them, not three feet from me. we both froze and just stood there looking at each other, until it eventually flew off.
Wren's are very funny little birds. I ride a motorcycle to work most days here. There are normally quite a few bikes parked together during the summer. I am commonly walking by them all a few times a day (going between buildings). During the summer I came upon a wren building a nest in some poor guys helmet (some people leave them locked to the side of the bike). I tried my best to chase it off. It hardly moved and sat there looking at me cheekily. During the next two days, I saw it building two more nests in two more helmets. I can only assume it liked the sweaty head smell
A friend here claims he had one build a nest in the pocket of a shirt left on the clothsline for an afternoon. They seem to have a lot of attitude and very little fear of people.

Kawayanan
 

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A beard is a collection of bees "resting" on hive and bottom board, sometimes drooping below the BB much like a swarm.

I didnt know yellow jackets clustered
 
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