Do bees fly at night?

Just like us, bees have to get up early in the morning to look for the best flower to gather nectar and pollen. Doing this as soon as they wake up is crucial as the flowers still have dew during this time of the day, and the pollen is also still wet. But, have you ever wondered what bees do during the night after a tiring day of work?

When talking about their physical ability, bees can still definitely fly at night. However, most of its species including the honey bees and bumble bees prefer not to do so. The reason is actually very simple; It is just like a man who prefers to sleep and rest during the night even though he is still capable to do work because he can not see well in the dark.

Let’s know more about this fuzzy black and yellow insect!

beekeeper harvesting honey

Are Bees Incapable of Flying In The Dark?

Bees who prefer not to fly at night in order to rest do not mean they are incapable of flying in the dark. Physically, they can still do it. However, the problem is that their vision is greatly reduced at night.

​Do bees become blind during the night?

Bees have five eyes. Two of which are compound eyes, while the other three are ocelli.

Recognizing colors and shades is the function of the compound eyes. Then the processing of light wavelengths is the function of the ocelli.

So technically, bees cannot see but they use the rays of the sun or what is called polarized light to guide them. Therefore, without light, such diurnal bees won’t be able to see and would just prefer not to fly around.

Where Do Bees Go Every Nighttime?

Most species of bees usually return to their own hives before nighttime comes. It is because they find it difficult to see in the dark.

Would bees still be able to find their way home in the darkness?

Well, they are not totally blind at night. However, their vision greatly depends on the intensity of light that is available.

For example, if no moon can be a little source of light at night, then the bees would most probably stay in their hives until the morning comes. But if the moon was able to give enough light like in full moon, then the bees could forage at night especially when there are plenty of flowers available.

In general, we can say that these insects have a very poor night sight. So maybe one of their mottos in life is “Bee home before dark”.

Do bees sleep at night?

The answer might be obvious as animals also need a good night’s sleep. However, the research on this topic was only made in the 1980s. Walter Kaiser, a researcher, studied the sleep-wake cycle of honey bees. The result of his study shows that honey bees have an average of five to seven hours of sleeping time at night.

What is the difference between Diurnal, Crepuscular, and Nocturnal bees?

Diurnal bees are most active during the day and sleep at night. In contrast, nocturnal bees are most active at night and sleep during the daytime. While crepuscular bees are most active at dawn and dusk. It is derived from a Latin word that translates to “twilight”.

​What species do not fly at night?

Species like Honey bees and Bumble bees are diurnal, which means that they only fly during the daytime. It is also the time when they pass along pollen grains. At night, although they choose not to fly, they would crawl if they want to go somewhere.

What species do fly at night?

On the other hand, there are some species of bees who are known in being able to forage even if their environment is quite dark. These include bee species that are crepuscular and nocturnal.

Examples of crepuscular bees that can fly in near dark conditions are the Mountain carpenter bee, Central American sweat bee, and Yellow-horned morning long-horned bee.

Nocturnal bees that fly and forage at night even without the aid of moonlight are the Megalopta atra from the Panamanian highlands and the Indian carpenter bee.

Do bees have night vision?

Crepuscular and nocturnal bees have different eyes than those bees who fly during the day. According to McFrederick, such bees have the ability to kind of amplify the signals that their brains receive from each photon. Improved photon capture is the reason why some bees develop an enhanced vision to discriminate coarse images at night.

Why can some bees forage at night?

As mentioned, some bees are capable to forage and are more active in non-daylight hours. There are four major reasons behind that.

First, Foraging at night makes bees less susceptible to parasites and predators which attack mostly during the day. Second, less food competition happens at night because fewer species are active at that time. Third, there are specific flowers that only open at night. Therefore, bees have to develop the ability to forage at night to be able to get the benefits offered by these flowers. Lastly, bees living in dry environments would be able to minimize their loss of water if they fly during evening hours.


In conclusion, most bees are diurnal which means that they prefer not to fly at night. However, there are also crepuscular and nocturnal species of bees who have evolved and developed abilities to see at night with little or no moonlight. Thus, they can fly at night.