On a spring days, bees can often be seen flying between the flowers to get the pollen they need. But when the sun goes down, the sight is less common. Is this just your imagination or bees can’t see at night?
Most bee species do not fly at night. They will fall asleep and conserve energy in the hive. However, some bees can move based on their memory.
The way bees approach night varies from species to species. It may also depend on the amount of light available. Read on to learn more about how bees behave at night.
Can Bees See At Night?
The first thing we need to know is whether bees can see in the dark. It depends on the type of bee. They can be divided into three categories:
Daily. You will be active during the day. When the light gets too dim, they return to the safety of the hive.
Dusk. In this case, the bees need brighter skies that appear at dawn and dusk. They will only come out at that time. As a result, they spend most of their time in the hive.
Night. This type of bee species only emerges under the cover of darkness.
The vast majority of bee species will be diurnal. However, a few are twilight and nighttime. These are commonly found in tropical regions of the world.
One of the best ways to tell if a bee is nocturnal or twilight is to look in its eyes. Nocturnal bees need access to more light so they can navigate properly. Therefore, their eyes will be significantly larger than those of the common bees species. In some cases, they can be half a millimeter larger.
Some bee species are nocturnal or twilight for several reasons, but most are not. This can include:
Prevent Robbery. Most predators want bees to be active during the day. If they go out at night, they won’t attract the attention of these predators.
There Is Less Competition. There are more pollinators to adapt during the day. This can be a problem, forcing them to fight for nectar. At night, this pressure is greatly reduced.
Lack Of Moisture. If they fly during the day, they lose water faster. This can be a problem in arid regions.
Flowers At Night. Some flowers only bloom at night. If bees don’t fly at night, they can’t gather nectar from these flowers. This is most common in tropical environments.
Combination. However, the most likely explanation is a combination of two or more of these elements.
Do They Fly Around at Night?
Whether or not bees fly at night often depends on the type of species they belong to. It may also depend on the amount of light available. Sometimes when there is a full moon, there is enough light for them to find their way. Under these conditions, usually diurnal bees can still fly around.
On a typical night, however, most bee species are in the hive. They return to the hive after sunset. The light is too dim at this point for further navigation.
Interestingly, scientists have studied nocturnal bees to see if they have evolved the ability to see in the dark. To do this, they move objects. They found that the bees were unable to return to the nest. This suggests that they navigated based on memory rather than vision.
What Jobs Do Bees Do At Night?
When they return to the hive, they are usually dormant. This enables them to save energy. Their body will be more relaxed.
The only bee species that doesn’t follow this pattern is the queen bee. When she lays eggs, she works day and night. When she is not laying eggs, she is also resting.
Will Bees Attack at Night?
Although most bee species are dormant at night. Therefore, they are less likely to launch an attack. But they can still sting you if provoked. This could attack humans for several reasons. This can include:
Bad Weather. This can make bees more defensive. This is especially common in early winter when they are trying to protect their honey supply.
Lack Of Pollen Or Nectar. Of course, when the bees start to starve, they become more aggressive. They will work hard to protect the resources they have access to.
Queen Bee Death. This is one of the most traumatic events in the hive. Without the Queen Bee, there is no one to lead the group. The good news is that this is short-lived, because the worker bee will immediately start raising a new queen bee.
Attack on Beehive. The main reason you get stung at night is to attack the hive. They will even attack you in the dark if they feel you are a threat to the their colony.
A Large Amount Of Bees Around The Hive Or Bearding At Night
Most of the time, bees rest at night. But there is one case where they are still walking around the beehive. This is called beards formation, It looks like a beard has formed on the beehive. Usually bees do not fly in this form. They just cling to the edge of the hive.
The reason for this behavior is simple. The hive is too hot. If the bees remain in the hive, they risk overheating and dying. As a result, they migrate outward. By clinging to the hive, they can sense the internal temperature. When it’s safe, they fly back to the hive.
This is a normal reaction and is common in summer. This can be a sign of a healthy hive because it means there are a lot of bees. Beekeepers will of course adjust the ventilation to cool the hive.
Are the Bees Attracted to Light?
During the day, bees have a positive phototaxis response. This means that they are attracted to light. This is more common in forager bees, who are the most experienced at leaving the nest. However, this is not possible at night. As mentioned earlier, bees rest all night. Adding a light source doesn’t change this behavior. Most of the hives will remain dormant, although some foragers may come out to investigate.
Sometimes at night you will find a bee flying towards the light. This may indicate that they developed parasites in their brains. This can cause them to fly into the light or become disoriented. Such bees are likely to die soon.
Which Bees Are Active At Night?
As far as we know, nocturnal or twilight bees are mainly tropical species.
Interestingly, some tropical wasp species have also evolved this way of life. Such bees (and wasps) are able to fly and navigate the dark forest between their nest and their destination.
Thus, light conditions are limited – a species capable of visual foraging early in the dusk can only be pushed back to the nest for a short period of time, before light conditions become unacceptable. “
Activity during the night and twilight has developed in 4 species of bees
- the Colletidae,
- the Andrenidae,
- the Halictidae,
- Apidae families of bees.
Nocturnal Bee Species, Nocturnal bees include:
Megalopta atra (Halictidae; Augochlorini), from the Panamanian highlands) and;
The Indian carpenter bee, even on the darkest nights, even without the help of moonlight, will fly out to find its way.
Crepuscular Bee Species
Examples of species known to be crepuscular, include
- Xylocopa tabaniformis,
- Xenoglossa fulva,
- Ptiloglossa guinea,
- Ptiloglossa jonesi,
- Ptiloglossa arizonensis,
- Caupolicana yarrow,
- Caupolicana ocellata,
- Xenoglossa fulva,
- Martinapis luteicornis,
- Peponapis sp.
- Lasioglossum (Sphecodogastra),
- Megalopta genalis is active under the dense rainforest canopy during two brief time windows after sunset and before sunrise.
The sweat bee Lasioglossum (Sphecodogastra) texana is primarily diurnal, but has been found to be able to forage at night when there is sufficient moonlight (at least half a full moon).
How Do The Eyes Of Bees That See In The Dark Differ From Those Of Bees That See In The Daytime?
Bees have 5 eyes:
2 compound eyes,
They are made up of many hexagonal facets, which means they can see everything around them (up, down, sideways and forward) at the same time.
3 simple eyes (or ocelli),
The monocular is the 3 eyes located on the top of the head. These eyes are sensitive to light and help bees find their way around.
In night-flying bees, the limited amount of available light has led to the evolution of proportionally larger compound and monocular eyes. In particular, the three monoculars (light-sensitive) in species that fly in low light are significantly larger relative to body size than the monoculars found in diurnal (circadian) bees. (Kerfoot, 1967b; Kelber et al., 2006; Warrant et al., 2006).
In the giant nocturnal Indian carpenter bee (Xylocopa tranquebarica), for example, they are almost a millimeter in diameter, but the monocular of a similarly sized diurnal (sun-active) species, X. ruficornis, is significantly less than half that size.
Nocturnal bees also had slightly larger compound eyes, but this relative difference was less pronounced compared to diurnal bees.
Like humans, bees also need to sleep. Most species do this at night. Because they can’t see where they’re going, there’s no point trying to get nectar. However, this is not the case everywhere. Certain species of bees are known to fly at dusk and dawn. Others fly at night. In general, however, you are less likely to be stung by bees at night unless you attack its hive.