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If you’ve ever paid attention to honey bees, you may have noticed that you only really see them on a sunny day. They certainly don’t come out in the winter and a lot of people have asked me, ‘where do bees go when it rains?’
It’s quite dangerous for honey bees to fly in the rain as too much water can weigh them down and make them too heavy to fly, so they remain in their hive or burrow until the rain stops.
While bees are excellent fliers, they are adapted to fly in certain conditions which is why you won’t see them on a cloudy or rainy day. In this post, I’ll be explaining what bees do when it rains and how you can help them during a storm.
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There’s a chance that you would have seen a honey bee flying in the rain and if it’s just a light shower or the rain doesn’t last for very long, then the bee may be able to carry on foraging with few to no problems.
However, if the weather turns and there’s a lot of rain or a storm then honey bees won’t be able to fly. Even just a single drop of rain on their small bodies can be enough to weigh them down. Moreover, a drop of rain on the honey bee’s delicate wings can make it very difficult for them to flap and get the lift they need to get off the ground.
Interestingly, honey bees have a good sense of when it’s going to rain and they’re well equipped to know when it is safe to take to the skies. It’s something of an anecdote that honey bees are even better at predicting the weather than humans with jokes that they’re more accurate than our best weather apps!
Not only are honey bees able to predict when it is going to rain but they’re also pretty adept at understanding how much rainfall there will be. When they know that a storm is coming, that’s when they’ll stay in their nest.
An amazing fact about bumblebees is that they’re only ever around 45 minutes from starving! This is because they require a high amount of calories in order to keep their rotund bodies up in the air during flight.
This species is much more able to fly in wet weather which is why you’ll see them more frequently on wet days. However, they’re still unable to fly in very heavy rain but a little drizzle doesn’t usually deter them from foraging to gain the important nutrients they need.
But if bumblebees get too wet, they’ll suffer the same problems as honey bees and the water will weigh them down, making their already heavy bodies even more weighty which makes it difficult to fly.
While bees might have a hard time flying in the rain, there are optimal flying conditions and it’s best if the temperature sits somewhere between 72 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why you’ll typically see them on a warm, sunny day. That said, it can get too warm for them and if the temperature reaches 100ºF then they’ll head back to the hive.
You may have also noticed that bees don’t seem to come out as much when it is overcast. That’s because bees use the sun as part of their navigation. Without it, they have to rely on other methods. It’s been suggested that they’ll perform their waggle dance to show other bees where food sources are on cloudy days, and they do this from memory! In studies, bees have been shown to have exceptional memories and can recall information for up to five seconds. That may not seem like much to you and me but when you consider that they’re such small creatures, it’s pretty amazing!
As I have discussed, bees have a built-in sense for when it is going to rain so if there’s a storm coming, they’ll stay in their hives. If a bee gets caught in the rain then this could mean death as our winged friends may get so wet that they’re unable to take off and this makes them vulnerable to predation.
That said, a bee that is caught in the rain will attempt to seek shelter until the weather improves. This could be among the foliage, in an outbuilding, or anywhere else that’s nice and dry.
I recently found a bumblebee that had fallen into my swimming pool and was trying to clamber out of the water. Fortunately, she was still alive so I scooped her out with a net and put her in a sunny spot on the garden wall to dry off.
Watching her remove the water from her fuzzy body was such a treat. It was amazing to see how she went from a wet, soggy mess back to her fluffy, hairy self before flying off to safety.
Bees are such important members of your local wildlife and I’ll always advocate for protecting them. There are lots of things that are often talked about in terms of saving bees. Things like providing them with habitat in your garden, planting native flowers, and eliminating the use of pesticides. However, there isn’t a lot of information on what to do to help bees when it rains.
In most cases, bees will look after themselves during a storm. But if you’re a beekeeper, there are lots of things you can do to help protect your colony when a storm passes through. This is especially important if you’re expecting a very intense storm.
If you have a well-established hive then this is excellent when it comes to storms in the springtime. This is because the hive will be very heavy and this gives it a great degree of stability so there’s little chance of it falling over or any covers blowing off.
That said, if you’re in a region where tornadoes or hurricanes are likely then it’s a good idea to add some extra reinforcements to make sure that your hives are secure. Using things like straps can be very effective and you might also drive posts into the ground on either side of the hive; these can also be secured using straps.
But even in areas where this extreme weather isn’t common, a regular storm may produce enough energy to knock a hive over and this could be fatal for your bees. What’s more, if any covers are blown off then rainwater will get inside and this could cause irreparable damage. The best option here is to weigh the covers down with something heavy like bricks and again, using straps is never a bad idea. Alternatively, latching the lid or using screws to keep things secure will work very well.
It is possible to move the hive inside an outbuilding if it is close enough. That said, a full hive can weigh a staggering amount so I wouldn’t suggest moving it unless you have the capacity to do so. It’s also worth keeping in mind that movement could upset the bees so you’ll need to weigh up whether it’ll do more harm than good.
If you are going to move the hive then it’s vital that you don’t move it more than a few feet. Bees have a homing instinct and moving the hive too far could confuse them.
Since bees are able to predict when it’s going to rain, it’ll come as no surprise that they prepare for this. When honey bees detect an incoming storm, they’ll send out more foragers to gather as many supplies as possible.
What’s more, inside the hive becomes a hub of activity as more worker bees are assigned to maintain the correct temperature and humidity.
Have you ever wondered where bees go when it rains? The truth is that these flying insects find it very hard to fly in wet conditions as the rainwater weighs down their bodies. While you might see a bee in very light rain, these conditions still aren’t ideal so they’ll normally stay in the hive or seek shelter until the weather improves.