Does Rain Kill Bees?
As the hot summer days become lesser, and the storm clouds start gathering, it’s the season every beekeeper hates, winter! Bees are not fans of the cold winter season, and some beehives could even be destroyed during the winter times. When you think about the average size of a honeybee, you’ll notice that their tiny bodies are about the same size as a drop of rain. Does rain kill bees?
Although a drizzle won’t kill a bee, heavy rain and large drops could kill them instantly. Heavy and large raindrops could easily break a bee’s wings and knock them down when flying around. Heavy rainfall could also cause them to fall into a puddle, where they could drown, as bees cannot swim.
During winter, bees would form a cluster and stay in their hives until the rain goes away. However, on dark and cloudy days, bees will still go out and forage and might encounter rain. Continue reading as I discuss bee behavior during rainfall and what we as beekeepers can do to help them during these difficult times!
Will Bees Fly In The Rain?
Bees will come out of their hives in the rain, but only if it’s light rain or drizzle. A light sprinkle of rain won’t stop these hard-working creatures from doing their work, although it would become a problem if it rains heavily.
Rain is not only very dangerous for bees, but heavy rain usually washes away or dilutes the nectar in flowers, making it useless for the bees to forage during these times.
Although bees can fly when it rains, they are smart and know when the rain becomes dangerous for them, so they usually would not leave their hive.
Even if it’s not raining and only misting, the mist could accumulate on the bee’s body, interfering with its flight abilities and flight patterns. The water in the mist could also weigh a bee down and compromise the bee’s wing beats, which usually happens at a rate of about 12,000 beats each minute!
If the rain becomes heavier and the raindrops become larger, these large dorps of rain can hit the bees and knock them down, similar to you being hit by a huge blast of high-pressure water.
However, as mentioned above, bees will still go out and forage on those cloudy days, and sometimes, it will start to rain when they are out of their hives.
If a bee happens to be out of its hive when the rain sets in, it will usually look for shelter until the rain lessens or stops, and it becomes safe to fly home again.
If a bee is already safely in its hive when the rain begins to fall, it will usually stay put until the rain stops.
Do Bees Prepare For The Rain?
It may be a surprise that bees, like most other animals and insects, can tell when a storm or heavy rain is coming. Bees will feel it in a very ingrained and innate way.
When there is heavy rain or a storm in the forecast, you will be able to see that fewer and fewer bees are leaving their hive, and if they do leave, you will see them coming back much quicker than they normally would, without leaving again.
When bees feel that the rain is coming, they will fill the holes in their hives with a substance they make themselves, known as propolis. Propolis is a substance that acts as a type of glue, and they use it to fix any apparent splits or cracks in their beehive.
An older and more damaged beehive will be repaired well will several worker bees constantly repairing it with propolis. However, newer beehives may not be as strong as older ones, and they may require some extra protection in areas that frequently get rain or severe storms.
This is where your job as the beekeeper becomes so important; you can provide your beloved bees with some extra and well-needed protection over their hives to help prevent water from seeping in!
Beekeepers can play a crucial role in making a difference in the survival and success of their hives during the winter or when their areas receive lots of rain.
How Can Beekeepers Help Their Hives When It Rains?
During a storm or just a rainy day, the most significant risk for a beekeeper is their bee box toppling over or having its cover blown off by strong winds. No beekeeper wants loads of water flowing into their hives, as it could drown an entire colony!
Most of the time, the bees have already secured their hive, and a box of honey is much less likely to topple over. However, if you want to help your bees to survive, you can help secure your bee box even further on those rainy or stormy days.
You can do many things to keep a hive as secure as possible until the rain passes. Let’s take a look at them:
Securing The Beehive Against Heavy Wind
Placing a heavy object or a brick on top of the bee box can help keep the top part in place. If you know your area is more prone to stronger winds during a storm, you can also use straps to secure the lid, such as ratchet straps, although duct tape will also be sufficient.
Place Your Hive On A Level Spot
It would be best to place hives on level ground instead of hanging on high and insecure stands. This will lessen the chances of a hive getting blown away or knocked down by heavy rains and winds.
If you’re making use of a solid board, you can tilt the board forward to avoid rainwater from pooling and collecting on the floor.
Protect Your Beehives From Falling Branches Or Trees
Did you know that a single fall of a tree or heavy branch could crush and kill an entire colony at once? Make sure you keep your beehives far away from trees that might drop their branches during storms and heavy winds.
Avoid Placing Beehives In Areas That Can Flood
When you use low-lying areas for your beehive placements, you need to ensure it isn’t prone to flooding during heavy rainfall, as it could drown your beehive and the entire colony of bees inside!
Provide Your Bees With Supplements
If a storm or rain is expected to last a few days, you can consider supplementing your bees with some sugar water. Bees constantly store as many resources as possible, but their resources may deplete if a storm or rain lasts a few days.
Heavy rainfall can significantly impact the success of your beehives, and sometimes, you will have to assist your bees in increasing their chances of survival. Rain can quickly kill bees and their entire colony, and sometimes, nature can be very harsh, but bees are excellent survivors!