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Bee behaviour and heavy rain in Canberra

Just wondering if anyone knows why bees congregate outside the entrance of the hive in heavy rain. Is this normal behaviour? Do bees still forage during wet weather?

They don’t usually do that. I can think of a couple reasons why they might:

  1. It is very hot/humid, and they have been “thrown out” to beard outside, rather than overheat the hive on the inside
  2. The roof (or walls, but roof is more likely) is leaking. Bees hate getting their feet wet, and will stay outside, or even leave the hive (abscond), rather than stand in a pool of water all day long

They do not forage during heavy rain, but my bees will forage during intermittent light rain. :wink:

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I agree with @Dawn_SD , there could be a lot of water getting inside the hive. I think the bees are outside to allow the inside bees room to circulate air in an attempt to dry the hive out. The bees outside will be fine. They have a knack of being able to defect water off themselves… It would be a good idea to lift the roof to see if that is the case. If so, you might be able to borrow a migratory lid as a temporary measure while you dry the roof out before taking steps to waterproof it.

I remember quite a few years ago, after a lot of blustery rain for quite a few days, we got a phone call about a swarm hanging in a tree. The people told us they had been there for four days. I couldn’t believe what I heard. I thought “wow, those bees hung there during all that wind & heavy rain”. I never forgot that.


@Dawn_SD @JeffH Thanks for the advice, no leaks or water inside the hive, thank goodness. I think it was because of the heat/humidity, as it was a thunderstorm (39mm of rain) after a 29C hot day. They were all back in the hive the following morning. It was just amazing watching them at the entrance in a huddle and ‘defecting’ the water off themselves :slight_smile:


You’re welcome Karen. @Dawn_SD & I should be thanking you for asking the question. Speaking personally, I need to keep the grey matter working.

Dawn did recently say (correctly) how quiet this forum is compared to when she first started. There was no trouble exercising the grey matter then.

Apart from answering questions, I’ve learnt a lot through this forum myself. As recently as a couple of months ago I picked up a great strategy through a video that @Semaphore shared.

As Dawn will tell you, click on the search icon & ask any question, the answers will normally be there somewhere.



a few years back here in Adelaide we had a big summer rain storm and I saw the exact same thing. In the middle of the night I was concerned a few of my tall thin hives might be blown over. I went out to check on them. The rain was pouring down, with lightning, high winds and thunder. I was very surprised to see large clusters on my hive entrances: bees huddled and deflecting the rain. They were wet. I was worried that I’d find piles of dead bees the next day but when the sun came out everything was back to normal.

Yesterday we had good rain here in adelaide and when I looked at my hives all the bees were inside- not one near the entrance. I suspect you may be right to think it was related to the humidity. Oddly though- I just read a book called The Honey factory and it said that bees have not evolved an ability to assess humidity- like they can measure temperature.

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