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.

12 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


    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.

    Master Beekeeper
    Pensacola, Florida

  3. Dan | Jun 14, 2015 | Reply

    Six swarms of bees formed in six circles at a convenience store parking lot. What would cause this? I would guess hundreds to two thousand bees in each circle.

  4. ekpeach | Jun 30, 2015 | Reply

    Probably there was several drinks and/or candy dropped to cause that.

  5. Laura | May 2, 2016 | Reply

    The day before yesterday evening I found a large bumble bee in my yard, I put some sugar water near it and went to bed hoping for the best. Yesterday morning it was still there and moving a little so I moved it as gently as I could to an area where it could get some sun and again put some sugar water down. It moved around a little yesterday and appeared to try to fly by flapping its’ wings but this morning it’s still there and still alive! I feel it’s suffering but can’t bring myself to kill it, any advise please?

  6. ekpeach | Jun 7, 2016 | Reply


    The Bumblebee is probably on her last lags if it is a queen. She has started her new year off by building her comb/nest and laid her eggs and have secured nectar and pollen for her hatchlings. When the first batch emerged as adult bees, they did the housekeeping, took over the nursery (feeding the larvae), and grocery shopping. She then keeps laying eggs until the late Spring then she dies. This is a very condensed life cycle of the queen.

    If you wish to learn more about Bumblebees, go to the library or computer and look up Life Cycle of Bumblebees and you will get more information than I have given. Hopes this helps you to understand about your BB.


  7. Rebecca | Jul 8, 2016 | Reply

    I’m forever rescuing bees from the swimming pool. I find that If I can do so quickly they recover fine. However, if they get “too” wet they invariably die after rescue even after drying out. I’m wondering why. Is it the pool chemicals? Can bees only take being slightly wet? Have they exhausted themselves? Any ideas?

  8. ekpeach | Jul 8, 2016 | Reply

    Hello. Bees need water for themselves and the colony. Water has no taste or smell and they go to the water that has a smell and taste. That is where the chlorine comes in. The bees share the water with other bees to give them the taste and smell so the other bees can find the water source.

    The bees have little tubes on both sides of their abdomen that they breath through. If these holes get plugged up, then the bees will drown/sufficate. When they land in the pool, they literally plug these tubes with water, and cannot get oxigen. Sometimes you get some of these bees out of the water in time for them of revive, and sometimes you are too late. I wouldn’t try to save the bees in the pool for they are a minute group compared to the rest of the bees. You might have one or two hundred bees in the water but there are approximately 30,000 to 100,000 bees in the colony. They only live about 6 weeks in the springtime so most of the water gatherers are on their way out anyway.

    I hope this answers your questions. If you have any more, you can send you comments right here and I will explain some more or you can email me at Looking forward to talking with you some more. Peaches

  9. Julia | Jul 20, 2016 | Reply

    I recently found a newspaper article from the early 1900s that discussed a couple in Oklahoma. The couple kept many, many beehives (it was their livelihood). When the region flooded suddenly, they managed to get some of the hives to dry land, and then (so the story goes) put the hives in a room warmed a little, letting them dry out and resuscitating the bees. Is this possible? I’m using the item in a book and want to make sure.

  10. ekpeach | Jul 20, 2016 | Reply


    In the case that you described, it would seem that is the way it went. If the bees need resuscitating, then in my opinion, they are already dead or so for gone that it would be impossible to revive enough numbers to continue the colony. Here is another explanation: It is possible that the bees have been dunked in enough water that the ones in the bottom of the hive up to the level of the water that quite a few got drenched enough that they appeared dead, but were just stunned enough to stop moving.

    When the beekeepers picked the hives up and got them out of water, the air holes unplugged enough that air could circulate through the bodies and gave them the oxygen that they needed to get active again. Being in a warm dry room would help evaporate the moisture so the humidity would be lowered rather quickly. I am thinking that would be what they meant instead of resuscitating the bees. (Sort of like you being in a room that developed a gas leak and you went down but the rescuers opened a window letting fresh air in and you on your own took in a lungfull of oxygenated air and started breathing on your own.)

    Another thought would be if they had a fan on in the room and was circulating the air, it would help force the air into the little insect breathing tubes.

  11. Julia | Jul 21, 2016 | Reply

    Thank you so very much. That is very helpful.

  12. ekpeach | Jul 21, 2016 | Reply

    Any more questions, just ask and I will try to help you. Good luck on your book.

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