Can bees fly in the rain?

This question came from someone in Ohio who tweeted that a rainy period in that state might be making it difficult for bees to get their work done.

Does rain have any impact on bees’ ability to pollinate crops?

Honey bees, and flying insects in general, do not fly in certain conditions of rain:
  • Mist can easily cover a bee and interfere with its flight aerodynamics. Bee flight muscles typically beat 12,000 times per minute, and mist can impede these wing beats. In addition, water can accumulate on the bee’s hairy body, becoming a weight issue.
  • In heavy rain, large droplets can hit a bee in flight and knock it out of the air similar to being hit by a blast from a water cannon.
  • Rain clouds can block the sun and may interfere with bee navigation, as well as reducing solar radiation, which can help heat up flight muscles.
  • The coolness of the rain water also can lower the bee’s body temperature and impede activity, including flight.
Interesting fact: Firefighters use a wall of mist to control bee flight and protect rescue workers when bees are spilled on highways when trucks transporting hives of bees for pollination accidentally tip over.

During our hive demonstrations at the Bee Care Center, we receive lots of great questions about bees.

Some other fun facts and surprises about bees…

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More fun facts about bees are available in a printable infographic.

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