Lots of bees outside at night

I’ve looked at old discussions regarding this but still cannot figure out if it’s normal.
I noticed this about 9pm last night.
Queensland, Australia, generally very warm but last night was a lot cooler than usual; 20 C, so I thought I would put a hive reducer on, at night, when I thought the bees would all be inside the hive.
As per the photo, there were hundreds, hanging around outside the entrance. A lot more than during the day when the temperature is hotter so being outside to cool it down at night doesn’t make sense.
They were all very quiet and not making any sound so I figure they were happy and this was normal behaviour.
Interestingly, the first thing I noticed was they all had their wings very wide apart, as opposed to tucked in which is how I normally see them.
I suspect this is a common normal evening behaviour?

@JasonF233 I am in Canberra and noticed the same thing last week when the temperature dropped dramatically to 20 degrees outside in the afternoon but my bees were still bearding outside. Only in the last few nights when it really did cool down (16 degrees) outside that the bees were all tucked up inside the hive. I figure even though the temp might be cooler outside I think the hive still heats up with all the bees inside. I am also a newbie to having bees in a cooler climate and am relying on the support here on the forum. So someone more experienced might add to this conversation :slight_smile:

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Hi Karen, when you say “I think the hive still heats up with all the bees inside”, is not entirely correct, however I understand your reasoning. The hive only heats up if the bees want it to. The bees regulate the hive temp via sensing organs in their antennae. It’s the brood area that needs to be kept at a constant temperature. If they need to raise the temp, they eat honey, then vibrate to raise the temp with their body mass. If they need to lower the temp, they circulate air with their wings. Some bees may stay outside to give the bees that are fanning sufficient room to do so.

Now is a good opportunity for me to promote my favorite youtube video on bees. “City of Bees”, by the Moody Institute of Science. That video illustrates how beautifully the bees can raise or lower the temp in their hive.


@JeffH Thanks for clarifying Jeff, I would be interested to see the video you are promoting, can you add the link into the post? Cheers KSJ :slight_smile:

For sure Karen.



Hi @JasonF233 I think what you’re seeing is normal. Since bee wings have veins that are part of its hemolymph and oxygen circulation system, I wonder if the wide apart posture is helpful for a related purpose.

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fascinating video…until minute 23!!! But absolutely remarkable, thanks

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Hi & thanks John. it’s not my wish to promote the religious message.


I love it. including after minute 23.

Hi Matt, many thanks & welcome to the forum. Your profile indicates 0 hives, are you looking at getting into bees at some stage?

Sorry, thanks. I should change my profile data. Yes I have bees.

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What a brilliant clip. Great to see how they pass on the information about where the food source is.

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I agree Peter, I also love how the bees receiving the information only take enough fuel to do a one-way trip.