Bees seem to be active throughout the day and mostly during the warmer months – but do bees fly at night?
There are some species of bees that do fly at night and that can see in the dark well enough to do so. The bees that have the vision and ability to fly at night are primarily tropical species of bees.
Usually, when bees fly at night, it is to pollinate flowers and gather the nectar from flora that only open after dark. Plus, there are fewer rivals out looking for pollen at night.
Bees do fly at night- keep reading to learn more about bees!
The Behavior of Bees
Most bees do not fly after dark due to their vision and spend their days flying about. Some species prefer the low light of dusk, which would explain why you might see bees in the garden, pollinating flowers just before dark.
The main reason why you don’t often see bees buzzing and flying about at night is because they cannot see that well and could potentially fly into an obstacle.
While rarer, there are some species that do most of their pollinating and flying at night. These are nocturnal species that prefer darkness to light. They may also prefer the cooler temperatures of the evening.
Know that all bees need a little downtime, so if they are active during the day, they are sleeping at night. Conversely, if they are nocturnal and active after dark, expect that they sleep the day away in their hive.
Bees that Forage at Night
These bees are able to navigate in the darkness, with only the moonlight illuminating their path. The Indian Carpenter Bee is able to fly around in pitch-black darkness, without any light whatsoever.
So, why forage at night? There are plenty of prudent reasons:
- Bees are smart and know that they can avoid potential predators under the cover of darkness. Bees may be less vulnerable to possible attack at nighttime.
- At night, there is less competition and rivalry for resources and food, which may be limited. This gives the bee a leg-up in securing their nectar.
- Some flower species only open and can be pollinated at night, after dark. This is certainly the case in tropical habitats and locales, such as rainforests.
For the most part, bees are diurnal, that is, active during the day and inactive at night. however, there are exceptions.
The Vision of a Bee
All this talk about the bee’s sight and vision- did you know that bees have five eyes? Three of them are on the top center of the bee’s head and detect what is happening above and below the bee when flying. This also helps them be aware of predators that could move in on them from above.
The other two are called compound eyes, located on the sides of their head and that act much like any eyes would.
Bees that are adept at flying around at night have eyes that are accustomed to seeing in the dark. Their eyes are larger than daytime- or diurnal- bees.
Frequently Asked Questions about Bees (FAQs)
Do bees ever fall asleep?
Bees do fall asleep, but you may not realize it as they sleep with their eyes open. They have a more relaxed body language, and they drop their head a bit when sleeping. When sleeping, bees are not flying.
Do bees ever stop flying?
Bees stop flying when the weather grows cold. They will return to the hive to gather with other bees and the queen for warmth.
Bees also do not fly when they are asleep. Many bees cannot see after dark and will not fly in the evening.
Why do bees come out at night?
Some bees come out at night to gather nectar and pollinate flowers. There are fewer competing bees, butterflies, or birds out at night, too.
Some bees do not see well enough to fly after dark, so there are few species of bees that are nocturnal and that do come out at night.
Is it normal for honeybees to fly at night?
During mild weather, honeybees will come out at night. In the spring and summer, bees often flock to lights near homes or residences after dark, much like moths do.
Do bees need rest?
Bees work very hard and do require rest to maintain their busy schedule.
Are bees more aggressive at night?
Bees can be more aggressive at night and will likely lash out if they feel under attack. Male bees are unable to sting, but females will become more aggressive the closer you get to their hive.
Why do bees become aggressive?
Bees become aggressive for many reasons, including if you get too close to their hive. Also, if the hive is without a queen, the bees may be more combative.
Foul weather can also cause bees to become aggressive, as can hunger and perceived vulnerability against threats and predators.
Some bees can and do fly at night. It primarily has to do with the species of bee, which also affects how well the bee can see after dark.
Most bees prefer the time of day just before dark when it is not too bright or too dim- this is the time that you are likely to see more bees out flying around the yard or garden. Bees have important work to do and without them, humans would suffer, and food would be scarce. Be nice to bees- they perform a very vital task.