Everyone knows our beloved bees are one of the most hardworking creatures in our world. With each bee working outside its hive for up to twelve hours every day, we sometimes wonder what they do when they cannot forage due to rainy weather. Are bees more active after rain?
Honeybees know precisely when it will rain, so they work more before it starts. These busy bees will put in longer hours when they anticipate rain, as the rain could severely harm their wings or kill them. Honeybees generally become even more active after rain to compensate for the lost time.
Whether you’re a beekeeper or not, I struggled with this question during my first few months of beekeeping. Do my bees have enough food for when it rains? Are they safe? Stay with me as I discuss where bees go during rain and what they do when the clouds open up again!
What Do Bees Do When It Rains?
When you think about the average size of a bee, you can imagine its tiny bodies being about the same size as a drop of rain. During any heavier rain than a light mist, each drop of rain will act as a small but powerful missile.
If a honey bee gets hit by a single raindrop, it could stun them, hurt their wings, and even kill them. A raindrop could knock a bee directly to the ground, possibly into a small puddle of water, and the bee would probably drown instantly.
While honeybees can fly in lighter rain showers, they will generally stay inside their hives or find shelter elsewhere during heavier showers.
Bees seem to have a great sense of when a storm will come and will become less docile and more aggressive to work with. Like many other animals, bees act very differently when they sense a storm approaching.
You will notice less activity around the hive’s entrance, as the forager bees will remain inside after completing their daily activities. If some forager bees have already left the hive, you may notice them leaving and not going back out again.
They will generally also work for extended hours during the days just before a storm, foraging for as much nectar and resources to feed their hive when they are stuck inside.
On top of spending extra time foraging, bees also do several other things that help them stay safe and sound when it rains.
One great thing they do is fill any crevices and creases in their hives with propolis. The propolis acts as a type of natural glue that secures their hive.
Therefore, if the hive is still brand new, it won’t be as safe as a hive whose bees have had enough time to secure their home correctly.
The more bees in the hive, the more work there is to do before the rain starts. The forager bees will usually be reassigned, and their role becomes to help manage the temperature and humidity inside the hive.
You need to check the food supply just before the rain starts because if you have recently harvested honey, their food supply may be low, so you will need to feed them.
What Do Bees Do After Rainfall?
As we all probably know, rain is frequently accompanied by cold weather. Cold weather delays the bloom of flowers. Although the delay should only last for a short period, the flowers will then open once again and shed their pollen, despite the weather.
However, honeybees will usually neither forage on wet or damp flower blossoms. This is mainly because if pollen grains come into direct contact with water, the water will enter through the openings in the pollen grains, through which the pollen tubes are supposed to emerge.
The water will then be absorbed by the living protoplasm in the grain of the pollen, resulting in the contents bursting.
Once the rain has ceased and the area has dried out, bees will behave very similarly to younger children who have been cooped up in their homes all day.
Even though the bees will have been busy in the few days leading up to rainfall, all of them will be more than eager to get back out in the world and forage as soon as the weather has passed.
Depending on how long the rainfall has persisted, some bees may also be thirsty, wanting to leave their hives and look for a water source.
Beekeepers tend to notice much more activity from their bees after rain, like most homeowners.
Homeowners often report having several bees entering their homes after rainfall, and even though the reasons remain unclear, bees should not be harmed when found in your home after rainfall.
If bees entering your home is a concern, whether they are just an inconvenience or due to allergies, you have some ways to prevent them from entering your home.
One of the best ways to prevent them from entering your home is to inspect the outside of your home’s structure, carefully looking for tiny openings that bees or other insects can fit through to enter the home.
It would be helpful to complete your inspection during the early mornings or early hours during the evening. This is because the temperature will not be overly warm, and most bees are the most active during these times.
By carefully watching and taking note of the bees’ activity levels, it could sometimes be very easy to determine their exact points of entry into your home.
If you have successfully determined their points of entry, your next step should be to block these access points as well as you can.
You can use almost anything to close or cover the holes, but it largely depends on where the openings are and whether air circulation is important or needed.
You can also use expanding insulation foam and screening materials in those areas where airflow are essential, such as kitchens, bedrooms, and bathrooms.
If you’re a proud beekeeper such as myself, you probably know half of your job is to be observant and respond to what you see.
You can prepare and plan, but in the end, you need to observe your environment and respond correctly to heavy rainfall conditions to help your stinger friend stand a better chance to survive!