Can bees fly in the rain?

Rainy days are usually not our favorite because it hinders us from going out and doing outdoor activities. The roads are muddy, there are puddles, and we can get wet along with our clothes if we don’t have an umbrella. Likewise, bees can also have a similar reaction to the rain.

So, do bees also feel the same way as us and will prefer indoors when it’s rainy, or do they like flying in the rain?

Bees can fly in the rain, especially if it is only light or a drizzle, or if they have to. However, they don’t like doing so because their wings will get wet, slowing them down in flight. Also, their wings can be damaged when the raindrops are big and fall hard. Foraging the flowers is also much more difficult to do when it’s raining because their pollen may have already been washed out. Their navigation is also impaired because of the clouds covering the sun that they use for navigation [1]

Now, let us learn more about bees and their preference for flying in the rain.

Can bees fly in the rain?

a bee harvesting nectar from a flower

Bees usually travel from the bee hive to the foraging site as far as 5 miles away to gather nectar and pollen from flowers. However, their average distance is within a mile away [4]. Since they have to travel far just to find food, rain can hinder them on their flight.

Bees can fly in the rain, especially during light rain. However, they may choose not to fly out of the hive during more extreme weather, but they will make up for their rest by working harder before the rain.

Studies have also shown that honeybees have hydrophobic wings that allow them to fly during fog, dew, mist, and drizzle [6]

You may have already seen a bee flying in the rain and can attest that during light rain or drizzle, bees will fly through the weather and continue with their daily job of foraging. Unfortunately, when the weather is severe, like heavy rains or during a storm, bees will choose to stay in the hive and save their energy for another day.

To learn more about bees, you should also read Can a swarm of bees kill you? and Can bees bond with humans?

Can bees predict the weather?

Bees are not meteorologists that forecast the weather for the upcoming days. However, some studies found that bees’ foraging behaviors differ when it is forecasted that it will rain the next day [5]

Though there are no conclusive studies yet about the bee’s ability to forecast the weather, some studies have already found that honeybees tend to spend more time foraging for food in the field on days preceding the days that are forecasted to rain so that they can rest more.

Even though further studies are still needed to prove that bees can predict the weather, bees may still have some sensing abilities related to the atmospheric changes that help them determine if they will need to work harder now because they won’t be able on the coming days [8].

Why do bees don’t like flying in the rain?

bees landing on a beehive

Though we already established that bees can fly in the rain, however, it is not their favorite activity because of some of the following reasons.

1. Bees don’t really like getting wet.

When bees fly out of the hive on rainy days, it is apparent that they will get wet. When this happens, their wings can also be waterlogged, making it much more challenging to fly to the foraging site. 

Though bees are more likely to spend overtime days before the rain, there are days when they will still need to fly out of the hive.

2. They will have to exert more energy.

When bees fly out on a rainy day, and the bottom of their wings gets wet (the top of the wings cannot get wet), their wings will get heavier. Since bees flap their wings at a speed of 230 times a second so they can fly, it will require more energy to maintain when their wings become wet.

3. Their wings can be damaged by raindrops.

When bees fly during a rainy day, it would commonly be light rain or drizzle, mist, or dew. These water droplets are small enough that they can ignore them and continue searching for flowers to gather food. However, it will be much more dangerous when they come out during heavy rains.

If bees continue to fly when the raindrops are large, their tiny wings can be damaged. If this happens, they will surely die since they will not be able to fly back to their hive. Heavy raindrops can also stun bees if they continue to fly during strong rain.

4. It is much more challenging to forage flowers.

Even light and steady rain can wash away the pollen on flowers that bees rely on to get their food. So, when it is raining, even if bees try to go out in the rain to the foraging site, they will still have almost no luck in getting their food.

The washing away of pollen on flowers may be one of the reasons why bees will push themselves a little bit hard foraging days before a rainy day.

5. Their navigation is impaired because there is no sun.

It’s been widely known that bees use the position of the sun as a reference when they are navigating outside their hive or nest to the foraging sites to collect pollen and nectar [2]. Though they can still navigate when there are thick clouds in the sky, rain is a different story.

When it is raining, the bees can have a difficult time navigating and referencing their location from the sun since they will also need to avoid getting hit by raindrops. 

What happens if a bee falls on water?

Suppose a bee accidentally falls on a puddle of water or another water reservoir caused by rain. In that case, bees have a unique way of avoiding drowning, escaping the water, and safely returning to the hive. 

When a bee is in the water, the bottom of its wings gets wet, but the top of its wings does not. Since their wings are heavy, they are unable to fly out of the water. Engineers at CalTech discovered that bees continuously beat their wings to create ripple tides, like a paddle.

Then they use the artificial ripple tides produced by flapping their wings by riding the wave, similar to surfing. They will continuously do this until they reach the edge of the water and into safety. However, this process is inefficient because it can easily tire the bees out, which can cause them to drown [3,7].

We would also recommend reading Do bees fly on cloudy days? and Do bees like Azalea flowers?


Rainy days are not the favorite days of bees because of the many disadvantages it brings them. However, they still can if they need to fly out in the rain. Bees have hydrophobic (repels water) upper wings that allow them to fly during light showers, drizzles, mist, or dew. 

However, bees will avoid flying out on a rainy day because it is more energy-consuming and life-threatening. So, they usually stay inside the hive. 

Though it may appear that the busy bees are not always too busy, the truth is that they may have the ability to predict the weather and the rain. This is after studies suggested that bees would typically work harder during the days before the rain because they know they won’t be able to work in the upcoming days.

Bees also avoid flying in the rain because they avoid getting their wings, which will slow them down. Heavier rain can also damage their wings or stun them during flight. Foraging will also be difficult because the pollen they would collect is already washed out. Even their navigation reference point, the sun, is covered, making it harder for them.


[1] – Thompson, C. (2014, November 22). Raindrops on bees: It’s not one of their favorite things. The Arizona Republic. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from

[2] – Evangelista, C., Kraft, P., Dacke, M., Labhart, T., & Srinivasan, M. V. (2014, February 19). Honeybee navigation: Critically examining the role of the polarization compass. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from

[3] – Nemo, L. (2019, November 20). When a bee falls in water, it ‘surfs’ tiny ripples to safety. Discover Magazine. Retrieved September 28, 2022, from

[4] – How far does a bee fly & how does it navigate? British Beekeepers Association. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2022, from

[5] – Can honey bees predict the weather? (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2022, from

[6] – Liang, Y., Zhao, J., & Yan, S. (2017). Honeybees have Hydrophobic Wings that Enable Them to Fly through Fog and Dew. Journal of Bionic Engineering, 14(3), 549-556.

[7] – California Institute of Technology. (2019, November 19). When stuck in water, bees create a wave and hydrofoil atop it. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 27, 2022 from

[8] – Southwick, E.E., Moritz, R.F.A. Effects of meteorological factors on defensive behaviour of honey bees. Int J Biometeorol 31, 259–265 (1987).