Can Bees See In The Dark Or At Dusk? Well, The majority of bees can’t see in the dark due to their diurnal nature. It means they are active during the day. However, there are a few species that can see at night. Here, the first thing to understand is what type of bee it is. Basically, there are 3 main categories in which you can split the bees.
- Nocturnal – These bees come out in the darkness.
- Diurnal – These bees are active during the day. When there is a dim light, they will go back to their hives.
- Crepuscular – In this case, these bees need bright skies that are available at dawn and dusk. This will result in them spending most of their time in the hive.
The majority of bees are diurnal. But, a few are nocturnal and crepuscular. They are found in tropical regions.
The best way to understand whether the bee is crepuscular or nocturnal is by looking at its eyes. Nocturnal bees need to be able to absorb more light, allowing these bees to navigate correctly. In conclusion, their eyes can be larger than the normal diurnal bees. In a few cases, eye size can be increased by half a millimetre.
How Do Bees See?
This is a bit difficult to understand. Bees have 2 compound eyes. These are made of various small eyes. These eyes are curved. They usually detect the change in each eye.
Let me tell you this in a simpler way –
When humans are born, we have a big brain and 2 big eyes with zero knowledge of how the world works. Along with the time, we figure it out. The brain connects pictures and what others do and say. This way we understand who our mom, dad, etc are.
Afterwards, the brain starts figuring out other things around us. And this way, the big brain starts to understand how the world works.
How Do Bees See Inside a Dark Hive?
In the dark, bees understand their way into the hive by using their senses and a few body parts. Moreover, bees use the sensory system to touch and feel the walls in the hive. Also, it allows the bees to move around without bashing the walls.
Like other insects, bees are dependent on pheromones for communication. The queen bee produces pheromones which are escalated around the hive by the worker bees. This thing allows the bee to understand which one is their home.
Many studies have shown that bees also use static electricity to navigate around. This is even when there is no light or places where there is no physical opening.
These cute bees can easily sense the difference between negative and positive charges. In fact, they can even use the information as a map. They can use the charges to roam around the dark hives.
When they cannot use static electricity to roam around in the dark, they usually use hive walls. Moreover, they also find their way when a single bee passes through as it induces an electric field which can send information regarding distance and direction. In this process, the other bees sense movement in the surroundings.
Can Bees Fly In The Dark?
Bees can fly in the dark just like we can walk and engage in different activities at night, but they choose not to do so because they don’t see well at night.
Bees’ vision is significantly reduced at night and they find it more difficult to orient themselves. Therefore, they spend this time in the hive or shelter recovering from their daily activities.
Most bees are more likely to feed on nocturnal predators if they hunt in the dark and stay safe in their hives. But that doesn’t mean bees don’t fly to avoid attacking invaders or potential danger to their colony, even if it is at night.
Usually, there are guard bees that do not sleep in the hive at night to warn the colony of intruders. Some bee species are able to forage in near-dark conditions and fly when there is a light source.
Will Bees Attack at Night?
Although the majority of bee species are dormant at night, they will attack less at night. However, bees will sting the predators if they provoke them. Here are a few reasons why a bee can attack you:
- Shortage of nectar – If bees are getting starved, they will become aggressive naturally. Bees will fight to guard the resources that they already have.
- Poor weather – Poor weather can make these cute insects more defensive. This is very common in the initial stage of winter when the bees are protecting the supply of honey.
- Attacking hives – The most common reason why a bee attacks you at night is that you are destroying its hive. If the bees feel the danger to the hives from you, they will attack you.
- Queen bee death – This is a very traumatic situation in the hive. Without a queen, there would not be the leading figure to lead the hive. However, here the good news is that it is short-lived because the worker bees will start making a replacement.
What Do Bees See?
Bees see differently from us. It is impossible for us to imagine. A bee’s compound eye consists of 6900 small eyes or facets. These small eyes are scattered over a dome shape. They see with the help of the movement between facets. This means that bees can detect shapes and lines but not their definition. Bees’ eyes are a good navigation system. Their sense of smell easily helps them when they are reaching their destination.
How Do Bees Find Their Way Home in the Dark?
Although bees have small brains, they are amazing navigators. When they go out at night, they will always find their way back to their hives.
For this, they usually fly in a straight line. They are able to do this by gathering information about where they have flown, how fast they fly, and a reference point.
Do Honey Bees Forage At Night?
Some species of honey bees only forage during the day. They return to their hives at night to rest. Usually, honey bees visit most of the flowers in the daytime when the flowers bloom and close their petals at night.
Honeybees cannot visit the flora for foraging activities. Apart from it, they need light to navigate and the daylight allows them to find flora which is high in nectar. Honey bees freeze foraging once it gets dark at night. Therefore, honey bees get a good amount of time to go back to their hives before it’s wholly dark.
They utilise the nighttime to rest and get that energy back that they lost during their busy daytime schedule.
Just like us, bees also need to sleep. The majority of the bee species will rest during the night. As the bees would not be able to look around in the dark, it does not make sense to get nectar.
However, this is not the same for every bee species. A few bee species are known to fly in the dawn and dusk. Some others fly at night. You are not in their range to get attacked if you do not destroy their hives.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Indian Carpenter Bee and Megalopta aka (Halictidae; Augochlorini)- These bees can fly out and find their way even at night, and even without moonlight.
Just like other insects, bees fly in the light. However, in the night, they struggle to move around and find their ways to hive. Therefore, once it starts getting dark, bees go back to their hives instantly.
Dark colours are interpreted as natural predators like skunks and bears. These wasps and bees might not attack instantly, however, they can get defensive. This means that even a small change can trigger them.