Can Bees Tell Time?

As humans, we have a lot of ways to know what time it is at any given moment. We have wall clocks, apps on our phone, or maybe a solar dial if you’re that kind of guy. But what about bees? Can they tell the time?

Bee scientists have just learned that bees can tell time, and it’s not just by looking at the sun. Bees use light cues and their internal clocks to keep track of time, but they don’t have an accurate way of measuring or predicting how long something will take. 

In fact, scientists recently discovered that honeybees are smarter than previously thought! So, how do bees tell time? Is it any different from other insects? Let us find out!

The unique way bees tell time

Bees can tell time, but not like we do. They use the sun and a circadian clock to keep track of time. Bees have an internal 24-hour rhythm that operates even though they live in constant darkness.

They can only remember an event for less than a day and are unable to tell you what happened yesterday because they don’t have long-term memory.

Bees use a dance called a waggle dance to communicate where food is, but it’s not the most accurate method since their memory is so short-lived.

Bees and the circadian clock rhythm

You may be wondering how bees can tell time when they don’t have calendars. It turns out that bees have several means of determining the passage of time. First, they are able to detect sunlight and use it to tell time based on its position in the sky. 

If it’s morning, you’ll see bees flying around outside as they gather pollen and nectar from flowers. If it’s afternoon or evening, you’ll see fewer bees outside—aside from those that come out at night—because most of them will be inside their hives working hard at making honey!

Secondly, there’s a little organ called an endocrine gland located near their eyes that controls circadian rhythms (your internal clock telling you when to sleep). When this gland detects daylight through their compound eyes (a group consisting of thousands of tiny lenses), it signals other parts of their body through hormones like serotonin so that everything works together properly throughout each day.

How long do bees remember an event?

While bees have a memory that can last less than a day, it may surprise you to learn that they can also recognize the location of food after only one visit. That’s right: bees remember where their favorite food source is for up to 24 hours.

This ability is especially important in early spring when flowers begin to bloom and bees are searching for pollen to feed their young. If a bee finds good food sources early in the season, it will fly back again and again over time so it doesn’t have to go far from home when looking for meals later on!

Bee dance system for communicating food locations

Bees use the sun and a circadian clock to keep track of time, but they don’t have the best sense of time. They can remember an event for less than a day, so if you see a bee let’s say on Saturday morning, it might be able to tell you where there is food about 10 minutes later. This isn’t very helpful for finding something that’s not around anymore!

Bees use a dance to communicate where food is, but it’s not the most accurate method. When bees come back from finding flowers that are full of nectar (a sweet liquid), they perform this dance so other bees know what direction to go in order to find those flowers themselves. 

The issue comes when two or more bees come back at different times—the other bees won’t know which one found first and therefore whether they should follow its directions or not!

Bees and their ability to anticipate the future

We all have a general idea of what time it is. It’s early in the morning, it’s late at night, or perhaps it’s getting close to lunchtime. But can we really tell what time of day it is from a distance? Or even better yet, can we tell how long until something will happen?

In some ways, bees have this ability too. This was first demonstrated by researchers in 2017 who showed that honey bees could anticipate when food would be available for them to eat later on in the day by observing other bees returning with pollen (which they eat). 

The researchers found that there were fewer bees returning with pollen during their experiment than usual; this suggests that there were fewer flowers containing nectar during this time period than normal—meaning there weren’t many opportunities for these flying insects to collect food and bring back home! 

So instead of continuing their search for food elsewhere like they would normally do when things were scarce (like during winter months), they stayed put until more opportunities arose later on down south.”

The unexpected intelligence of bees about time

And bees are not the only animals that can tell time. There are many other creatures who have been found to use a sense of time—or at least something similar. These include ants, flies, and cockroaches. 

In fact, studies have shown that ants can remember the length of their own bodies! This means that if an ant walks away from its nest for food and then returns home without getting lost along the way before it runs out of food stores (which would happen after about two days), then it knows how long its body is and can tell when it has been gone for too long. 

It will go into a sort of panic mode after around four hours because it realizes that something has gone wrong with its ability to judge distances or lengths correctly (at least according to scientists).


In short, bees can tell time, but not like we do. Bees use the sun and a circadian clock to keep track of time. Bees can remember an event for less than a day. Bees use a dance to communicate where food is, but it’s not the most accurate method. Bees have some ability to anticipate the future