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How many bees fly during the day?

It is interesting to see how bees fly during the month of July. If it’s a nice day, 30,000 to 100,000 bees will fly out of the hive, and some will fly out and return 7 times. In one day, 500 to 2,500 bees that die outside the hive will not return. New bees are still hatching, so if you look inside the hive it is not at all obvious that so many bees are dying.

Manually seeing and estimating how many bees actually fly in and out, counting them one by one, and keeping records of how many of them fly, how much pollen they collect, and how long they stay outside the hive, is virtually impossible.

Beezum BeeCounter

If you use an electronic bee counter that uses photocells to record every bee that flies out of the hive and returns, you can see and understand this. The results can be interesting and startling, and the data may surprise you, as they change throughout the year, but also during the day.

Every 10 minutes, there are 200 to 1000 bees flying out of the hive, and if there is nectar, they will double. And roughly the same figure on numbers returning.

Except for the morning and afternoon flight of more bees, they behave as if they were synchronized. About the same number of bees fly away as come back. If the number of flying bees increases, so does the number of returning bees, in a rather narrow time interval. Their system for coordinating the number of flying bees does have some precise rules governing this. The bees are outside the hive, depending on the distance they have to fly, for 20 to 40 minutes.

Bees react very precisely to a change in the weather. If a storm approaches, they all come back quickly. If the storm subsides, they quickly fly out again. This correlates very precisely with the sharp change in atmospheric pressure certainly before the storm. Still, they can fly, even if it rains lightly if it’s warm outside and if there’s nectar flow. In good weather they fly until dusk, sometimes returning almost in darkness.

It takes 20-40 minutes for a bee to return to the hive as they collect nectar

A bee can fly 2-3 kilometers from its hive to get food and find its way back home. Bees can fly up to 6 kilometers from the apiary

If you have the wrong hive design, the bees will stop flying during the hottest part of the day. They will then focus on cooling the hive. The easiest way for them to cool it is to leave the hive floor insert open. By opening the bottom of the hive, you can effectively reduce the temperature up to 10°C for the ideal temperature of 35°C. With a small opening for the hive and an unventilated bottom, the temperature in the hive can be up to 45° C.

What you definitely need to provide is a well-insulated roof. Strong sun shining on uninsulated roofs can melt the combs.

See changes during the summer period

Bees counted for a beehive during the summer season with; Blue – going out, and Orange – going in. Some days are more active than others depending on the weather and different flowering periods with nectar availability.

A week’s bee count shows you daily intensities and differences between days

During a week in June, more bees may go out than come back.

Too hot in the hive in the middle of the day?

Too hot inside the hive in the middle of the day due to poor ventilation and insulation means that bees need to spend time in the middle of the day to ventilate and cool the hive. The bee counter allows you to see the intensity during the hours of the day, from morning to evening. If you have a dip in the middle of the day, it may help to examine the ventilation and construction of the hive for thermal insulation.

Are bees flying synchronously?

If you zoom in and look at the history of bee counting over a few hours you can see how intense the in and out flights are, and also how synchronous the bees are

More theory on possible uses for counting bees

The degree of expansion or contraction of bee flights can indicate the health of the hive.

The expansion or decline of orientation flights over days can signal the queen’s health.

The time lag between peaks of bees leaving and returning may indicate the number of foragers and the distance to the pollen/nectar source.

Comparison between two or move hives to test for manipulations; for example,
– adding/removing honey boxes
– internal sugar feeding
– oxalic acid treatments
– insight and education on the flight activity and intensity of bees during the day and season.

Understanding hive health by counting bees

Equating bee flight data and orientation flights with overall hive health or queen health seems possible. Orientation flight is a behavior of “middle-aged” bees of about 20 days old. Before bees of this age forage, they will leave the hive as a group at mid-day, resulting in an easy-to-see about 45 min peak in the data. If there is a reduction in orientation flights, it may indicate a reduction in egg laying ~42 days before (22 days for hatching + 20 days for foraging).

Foraging distance

It is easy to see in the data small but clear shifts in time between bees OUT and bees IN. This indicates both a volume of bees leaving and returning together and an approximate distance or flight time to and from the foraging site.

Analyze bee counting information via the Web application

Analyzing statistics, zooming in and out over time periods/weeks/days to view data is best done with the Web application. In the Mobile Application, you can also see today’s data, but the size of the screen often makes it difficult to see trends over time on a small display. You can also export data to excel from there to see measurement points more accurately.