Yes, bees are and will be OK in the rain. A light drizzle won’t kill them, however, if the rain becomes heavy with large drops, things can get a bit dicey. Heavy raindrops can easily knock down a flying bee or break its wings. Heavy rains can also knock them into a puddle of water where they can drown. This is why bees normally stay in their hive and stay put until the rain goes away.
Do Bees Come out in the Rain?
Bees come out in the rain but only during light rains or drizzles. A light sprinkle won’t stop a bee from collecting pollen. However, heavy rains can be a problem. Not only can they be dangerous for the bees, but heavy rains dilute and wash away nectar in flowers, making them useless.
When the weather isn’t favorable for collecting nectar and pollen, bees prefer to stay in their hives and wait for the weather to clear. They will also typically only forage on dry blossoms.
Can Bees Predict Rain?
It is said that honey bees can sense changes in weather, which allows them to prepare for it. While bees are constantly foraging and storing nectar and pollen, it’s been observed that in the days before a rainfall, bees will increase their foraging. It’s possible they can sense atmospheric changes and respond to this by gathering more resources in preparation of a few lean foraging days.
What Happens when Bees get Wet?
Bumblebees are more likely than other bees to be caught out in rainy weather because they still go out and forage on cool and rainy days. Honey bees, on the other hand, prefer to stay in their hives during inclement weather.
But what happens when a bee gets wet? If it’s just a mist or light rain, the bee will be fine and can still fly and go about its day. However, if raindrops accumulate on the bee’s body, this can weigh the bee down, making it difficult to fly. There’s also the chance that the bee can get knocked down or become fatigued by the extra effort of flying wet and fall to the ground.
Fun Fact: Bees do not like to get their feet wet. When drinking water, they will stand on a dry area and drink water using their proboscis.
Can Bees Swim?
Bees cannot swim. But, like all other life on our planet, bees need water to survive. They need a water source nearby — within half a more or so, though bees will fly up to 5 miles for water.
And bee experts will tell you that bees prefer more brackish water, which usually has vital minerals, like salt, and other nutrients they need. This is why bees are sometimes found near leaky pipes, swimming pools, birdbaths, pet water dishes, fountains, and other areas with standing water.
Bees also use water to dilute the gelatinous food secreted from the nurse bees’ head glands. This helps worker bees swallow the food easily. Water is also needed to maintain the right humidity level in the nest area. This is important when the weather gets too hot and dry outside. Worker bees will fan water droplets placed inside the hive with their wings, which causes it to evaporate and cool the hive.
Beekeepers will place water sources near their hives, using shallow pots with rocks or corks for the bees to stand on and other shallow sources, to provide their bees with the water they need.
What to do If you Find a Wet Bee?
If you find a soaked bee during a rainstorm, you can help it by gently placing the bee somewhere dry. It can be under a leaf or on your terrace — but most of the time, it’s probably best to just let it be. If you do move the bee, take care not to move it too far from where you found it. Choose a dry spot closest to where you found the bee and allow it to dry on its own.
If you think the bee needs a little more TLC, you can offer sugar water — put it close to the bee, but not on it. If it wants the sugar, the bee will take it.
On the rare occasion you find a bee still out at night, you might decide to bring it inside until morning. You can place a bee in a small box with holes poked in it for ventilation.
Just remember, bees are not pets and this should only be done if you are really concerned. Also, the majority of bees you find outside close to nighttime are male bees. Many species of male bees sleep outside in the flowers and should be left alone. They’ll be OK.
How do you Help your Hive?
During a rainy day or a storm, the biggest danger your bee box will face is toppling or having the cover blown off. You don’t want a bunch of water in your hive because it will drown your colony. Most of the time your bees will have already done the work necessary to secure their hive and a box full of honey is likely secure enough not to topple.
However, if you want to further help your beehive during rainy and stormy days, you can do several things to keep it secure until the rain passes.
Secure the hive against strong winds. Putting a brick or other heavy object on top of your bee box can help keep the top in place. For stronger winds or during a storm, you can strap down the lid with ratchet straps or duct tape to keep it in place.
Choose a level spot. It’s also best to place hives on level ground instead of hanging on high, insecure stands. This lessens the chances of getting blown away by strong winds or knocked down by heavy rains. If you’re using a solid board, tilt it forward so that rainwater won’t pool and collect on the floor.
Protect the beehive from falling trees or branches. A single fall can crush and kill the colony at once. Keep you beehives away from trees that might drop branches during storms.
Avoid areas that flood. When using a low-lying areas, make sure it isn’t prone to flooding, which can drown your hive.
Supplement when needed. Consider supplementing with sugar water if the storm or rain lasts a few days. Bees are constantly storing resources, but a few days can deplete their stores.