Beekeepers Friend

Peaches’ Beekeeping Blog

September 11, 2007

Bees and Rain

I was asked the question, “What do bees do when it rains?” The answer is I really don’t know. But I can make an educated guess.

Bees are like any other small insect when it rains. They are about the same size of hard raindrops. If a drop of water hit a bee with the force of hard rain, it would probably kill her or at least maim her. That would be disastrous for her. If a drop of rain hit a bee with the force of slow rain, it would probably at the most, knock her out of the air and onto the ground, or maybe into a puddle of water with the possibility of drowning. At the least it would get her wings wet to the point of not being able to fly. So I would think that the bees would elect to stay home and help with the central air and heating and other household chores.

Before I tell you any more, here is a link to show you the life cycle of the honeybee. Make sure you know what the bees do in the hive normally. First of all the normal functions are: queen bee (producing eggs for population), nurse bees (caring for the brood), housekeepers (keeps the place clean), cooks (those bees that take the nectar and pollen from the field force and processes and stores them in the wax cells), engineers and laborers (repairs old wax cells and builds new wax cells), climate control operators (heating and air conditioning and humidity control), undertakers (removing the dead adults and trash), and guards (protectors against marauders and robber-bees).

Then there is the field force (the worker bees that goes out into the great open spaces to collect pollen, nectar, and water) that is staying home today because of the foul weather. Its job would be to help out wherever there is a need. Extra bodies mean more heat and humidity. Some of the field bees would undoubtedly help in guarding and controlling the temperature and humidity.

There would be more bees dying at home, so some would help the undertakers in removing the bodies. There would be more mouths to feed, so some would be designated as cooks’ helpers and help feed everyone. As a side note, the cooks also have kitchen helpers who have to mix the nectar with water and enzymes and then they have to fan the mixture to evaporate the water until it turns into honey. I am sure that some of the extra bees would be put to work helping to cure the nectar so that they will have enough honey to feed the multitude of extra bees.

Probably, there would not be enough room in the hive for every bee to be in out of the rain, so some of the overflow would stay outside until they got a chill and then change places with some of the ones inside who by this time are hot and tired of doing something they graduated out of before they became foragers. Sort of like changing of the guards.

If you need more information, let me know and I will try to expand more. Remember, these are only my thoughts. There will nearly always be some beekeeper to say that I don’t know what I am talking about and then there will be another that says he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Read books, talk to beekeepers, extension agents, state bee inspectors, and attend meetings. That is where you will gain most of your information.

2 Comment(s)

  1. caryn | Jan 1, 2014 | Reply

    It seems I’m always rescuing something, or at least ATTEMPTING to). Today it’s a honey bee. I’ve always admired them and this one was in distress. I wonder, with my help will he make it back to the hive when it clears? And will they accept him again or sting him to death?
    It’s been raining buckets all day and the temps here in Ocala, Florida were in the 50′s and 60′s. It’ll go down to the low 50′s tonight.

    I found Mr bee sitting on a plastic chair, totally drenched and barely moving. I put him in a covered container with air holes and set it on a heating pad on low, (my dog is usually on it but gave it up for Mr. Bee). I put a skoshe of honey in with him, not knowing whether he’d eat or get stuck in it. When it rolled slowly towards him he was doing something, but I don’t know what, (lousy eyes). An hour later he was very active so I took him out side. He walked out of the container but his wings didn’t work and he kept tipping over so I brought him back in for the night. He wants out and I will let him out first thing in the morning. If he makes it back to the hive, will they smell the (not- local) honey on him and attack? What is his prognosis? Yes, I know… I’m nuts… but Im old so I’m entitled, right?
    Thanx. caryn van zandt

  2. ekpeach | Jan 2, 2014 | Reply

    Caryn,

    I appreciate that you are a conscientious person and you are trying to help the bees. I think you would benefit by reading some books on bees just to help you understand more about them.

    Trying to rescue one bee is like killing one ant. It doesn’t make any difference in to broad scope of things. Number 1. Bees only live a short time, like 4 to 6 weeks in the springtime as they work themselves to death. Number 2. If you take the time to feed it, put it in a warm dry room, and then maybe forget about it, you will kill it anyway.

    If you keep the bee inside out of the weather, then if the rain does stop and you delay in getting it back outside, then it cannot leave to get home in a timely manner.

    Now on the other hand, if you find a swarm of bees, then you can put them in a box close the lid and punch a hole in the side of the box so they can go and come, then you will have saved a colony of bees and gave them a home to live in.

    I than you for your concern. I wish there were more people like you.

    Peaches
    Master Beekeeper
    Pensacola, Florida

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