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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have two hives in Indiana. Its about 80 degrees today and has been mild the past week as well.

I approached my hives today and the 2nd hive had a ton of bees outside the entrance.

Not only that, they were incredibly defensive. I approached the hive and was still 10 or 15 yards away when they started to attack and sting me.

I took a photo of the entrance:
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Any idea if this is Bearding? Are bees defensive when they do this? The hive is typically pretty docile.
 

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It could be bearding due to warm weather and crowded conditions inside; however, if the attack on you was not their normal behavior, it suggests to me that they were disturbed by something or someone.
 

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How does the hive look inside, I am thinking you will find your answer on inspection. Bearding has nothing to do with defensive behavior. How are their nectar and pollen stores, and do you have a queen? Assuming this colony is normally docile. Other reasons listed above could be correct as well, but you are going to have to get in there to find out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
They just about filled their first deep box so I added a second last week. In theory they should have enough room in their hive.

I've also been feeding they syrup so they should have ample food storage.

My thought was a skunk was attempting to rob the hives and as a result the bees were defensive.
 

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Do you have the top vented? Like a small paint stick at the back to pull the heat and moisture out?
Was it going to rain? Bees may get a little moody depending on the weather.
 

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They just about filled their first deep box so I added a second last week. In theory they should have enough room in their hive.

I've also been feeding they syrup so they should have ample food storage.

My thought was a skunk was attempting to rob the hives and as a result the bees were defensive.
Skunk is a very plausible cause, if so they should calm down in a bit. Ventilation is always a good point on the bearding, as it wouldn’t be over crowding ( from description above ) I would still make sure I had a queen. Just me though.
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How warm is it where you are? As a new hives expands in the heat of summer, even with an empty box overhead, they will beard as a way to regulate temperature to keep brood at the right temperature so bearding is usually a sign of warmth and a need to regulate temperature inside the hive. Clustering is the opposite in cold weather. It is better to vent the top as a breading hive "ain't workin'" and it will slow down the expansion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
How warm is it where you are? As a new hives expands in the heat of summer, even with an empty box overhead, they will beard as a way to regulate temperature to keep brood at the right temperature so bearding is usually a sign of warmth and a need to regulate temperature inside the hive. Clustering is the opposite in cold weather. It is better to vent the top as a breading hive "ain't workin'" and it will slow down the expansion.
It was about 80 degrees today and mid 70s over the last week.

I see them beard outside of the entrance now and then, but nothing like in the picture. It looked like there were about 10x more bees outside of the hive this time than any other time.

I'll wait for a clear day over the next week and then see if I can find evidence of a queen.
 
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