View Full Version : Do bees fly when it rains?

Chef Isaac
08-23-2004, 05:02 PM
I have a question.... when it decides to rain (like it did all this week and today), what is the activity like by the entrance of the hive?

Right now, it is raining and bees are flying around the entrance. That amazes me.

Michael Bush
08-23-2004, 05:53 PM
The bees always seem to know when to stay close to home and when to fly further afield. Whether it's raining lightly or not at all. Sometimes it's raining lightly all day and they are working. Sometimes it's not raining at all and they aren't flying and then a storm hits. They seem pretty good at predicting changes.

08-24-2004, 05:14 AM
I've noticed the same thing...I've always thought it odd to watch them fly out in the rain.

08-24-2004, 07:46 AM
Hi Guys,

Yes, they do. I've had a hive that freely worked in the rain, even when the temps were in the 40's. A few bees from my other hives would come out around the entrance. Get wet. And never make it back inside. Those bees were very unique. I was going to breed from them, but they were very susceptible to chalk brood.

I've also had a hive that worked freely at night when the moon was shining. Some bees will buzz around the entrance, but that was the only hive I've seen that foraged at night.


Michael Bush
08-24-2004, 08:09 AM
Maybe the chaulk brood was because they kept coming home soaking wet and tracking water in the hive. http://www.beesource.com/ubb/smile.gif

08-24-2004, 08:11 AM
I was sitting on my front porch at dusk the other night--a good 500 feet from the hives. It was drizzling. Lo and behold, my girls were working the flowers on my steps and porch! That's the first time I ever saw them working in inclement weather, but it seemed to bother them not in the least.

08-24-2004, 11:58 AM
I just left one of my hives in the back yard. I can see it from the bathroom window. It was raining all day they kept working right thru it. Last week I was at a yard 1 mi. away it was overcast the bees were all home and mad. I wondered why there was so little activity at the entrance and then it hit me... a downpour I thought what an idiot I must be.....HERES MY SIGN!!!!!!

Procrastination is the assination of inspiration.


Chef Isaac
08-24-2004, 12:11 PM
I would like to learn more sometime on the activity that bees make prior to a big event. Like the last post.... all the bees worked through a small amount of rain but the bees were inside before the big downpoor.

did the bees know that ahead of time?

Michael Bush
08-24-2004, 12:45 PM
I can only say what I've seen. The bees weren't talking to me about it, but it appears they can tell the difference between a light rain that will keep going and a storm coming in. This is hardly limited to honey bees. Other insects also seem to know and often fly when the storm is coming in (as opposed to the bees who seem to stay home). You can see this insect flight before a storm if you go out and watch, or you can just watch the swallows from your window as they do the "rain dance" to eat those insects.

My guess would be they sense sudden changes in barometric pressure.

08-24-2004, 12:47 PM
I am Sure that they did. As a bomb dog handler you are taught to read the body language of a working dog. For example if you are in a room with a bomb and the dog keeps looking at the celing the bomb is probably high on a shelf or in the lights.

Procrastination is the assination of inspiration.


08-25-2004, 04:17 AM
Well, before huge downpours or thunderstorms, the air pressure drops pretty dramatically. Being tiny airfoils, I'm sure they can easily tell the difference in pressures and can sense the storms coming. With light rains, the pressure can actually rise and perhaps they can 'sense' that there isn't impending inclimate weather coming.

TX Ashurst
07-02-2007, 02:51 PM
I did some accidental research on this topic last Saturday. I had crushed and strained honey out of a comb and there were small amounts of honey in the wax and on the sides of the bucket. I set the bucket on the back porch to let the bees clean it out. There have been rains showers and thunderstorms here for weeks now, so I set the bucket on its side under a chair where the rain couldn't get in.

As you can imagine there was soon a LOT of activity around the bucket. As a thunderstorm moved in, the activity dropped markedly, but a dozen or so bees stayed at it. As happens here in a thunderstorm, when the rain came it came with a vengeance with huge drops pummeling the ground. As the bees left, they were visibly hit by drops of water. I saw one stagger in flight twice and then drop like stone with the next drop.

After it was over I counted 9 soggy bees on the porch, of which 5 were dead. I think the others made it up to the rooftop or out over the lawn before getting hit so I couldn't tell what happened to them. 1 or 2 of the soggy bees might have dried out enough to fly, but the rest were still there when the next wave of rain swept over. I assume they perished. Meanwhile, more bees had come for the honey and more got caught in it. Not enjoying watching bees die, I took the bucket and put the wax in my solar melter after that.

I was surprised that they stayed with the honey with a thunderboomer coming, although the smell of open honey is a powerful attraction for them. I was not surprised that heavy rain knocked them down, nor that they drowned. And, of course, being loaded with honey they can barely fly at all, much less fly around the big drops.

07-02-2007, 03:19 PM
Mine regularly fly when it's raining. No, they aren't quite like the bumble bees in this regard but "it's raining" and "They won't be flying" are two separate things entirely, particularly on the larger hives. One would think that on the solid gray days the bees would stay in. Not so. The italians stay in more than the carniolans, the swarm hive should all have gills judging from how much they fly in the rain. We had a sun shower the other day - pouring in broad daylight. They never stopped. I live next to an electrical easment and there's 11 feet tall blackberry thickets just across the road. Dusk till dawn the air between here and there is full of bees. Maybe when the blackberry's done they'll be more "normal". I doubt it.

07-02-2007, 06:34 PM
Hi all, I have been working way to much. Anyway I wonder what they do when a hurricane is on the way? Maybe the girls could be an early warning system? The sea turtles are the masters of weather. They lay there eggs very high on the dune when we are going to have storms with high water. They do this far in advance. I will bet the farm on that though.

07-02-2007, 08:37 PM
The bees are incredibly good at predicting change. When I come home, I peek at the entrance. If the weather seems good and I want to work outside, I expect the bees to be flying. If they're not, I don't start any outside project. The other day, I had just started painting outside, up on the second floor. My wife told me that all the bees seemed to be inside. An hour later, it poured. They're so smart!

05-07-2012, 10:08 PM
We had heavy rains today here in central Florida. I was very concerned about my rag-tag, newly cut-out hive losing more members before they can get momentum going. They are presently building all new comb because I had to throw-out the wax-moth-infested comb from the cut-out.

But you know what, they seemed to have a party atmosphere about them, especially after the rain was over. We've been in a drought, so obviously it was a relief to them as well.

But yes, I'm sure they can predict storms and even navigate in them if need be. It was such a downpour, though, that I hope all their warning systems were working ok so that none of them got pummeled.

Here they are: