Do bees sleep in flowers? It’s a charming image, like an illustration in a children’s book. But is a flower the best place for a bee to spend the night?
In this article, we explore the nightlife of bees, and learn what they do all day that tuckers them out. And we’ll talk about how to be good neighbors to bees because, as we’ll see, they’re good to have around.
Why Bees Are Good Neighbors
Your first impulse when you see a bee might be to swat at it, scream, and try to run away. That’s understandable because, as anyone who has been stung by a bee will tell you, it hurts a lot. Even if you aren’t allergic, a bee sting will create a burning, throbbing, inflamed welt. It itches for several hours – enough to remind you to steer clear of bees in the future.
Though they have quite a sting, bees are very important. They’re responsible for pollinating plants that make up 33% of the world’s food supply and 50% of the world’s manufacturing oils, fibers, and other raw materials. Without them, our planet would face mass starvation and economic collapse. Additionally, they pollinate thousands of species of wildflowers and grasses that provide food for wildlife and prevent soil erosion. In their hives, bees also produce honey and beeswax which are useful for food, medicines, candles, and many other applications. Are bees starting to look a little better to you now?
What Bees Do All Day
A honeybee hive is made up of three kinds of bees: the queen, workers, and drones. The queen and the workers are all females, but the queen is the only one who is able to reproduce. And that’s really her only job. She spends every day laying eggs that are tended by worker bees. The workers will select a dozen or so princesses to receive a special royal jelly they excrete from their heads that activates their reproductive systems and causes them to develop into new queens. Each colony can have only one queen bee, though, so when the new queens are mature enough to reproduce, they are driven out of the nest to go create new colonies.
When worker bees are young, they spend all their time inside the hive, tending to the queen and her eggs. They produce wax from a special gland on their abdomens and use it to make the honeycomb where eggs are laid and where honey is stored. As worker bees get older, they are sent outside the hive to gather nectar and pollen from flowers and other plants.
Plants produce nectar, a fragrant, sweet substance, to lure bees to their flowers and they produce pollen as a means of reproducing with other plants of their species. Bees get their energy and nutrition from eating both the nectar and pollen, but some of the pollen sticks to the hairs on their body and legs and is carried to other flowers, where it helps them germinate seeds. Back at the hive, workers transfer to other bees the nectar and pollen they have stored inside their abdomens. It gets transferred from bee to bee with each extracting moisture from it until what is left is honey. This is stored in the hive for the winter or other times when food is in short supply.
The drones are the only males in the hive and their only job is to find a queen and reproduce with her. Drones have exceptionally large eyes to enable them to spot queens from further away. Unlike females, males are unable to sting. However, even honeybee females do not like to sting, because doing so pulls some of their insides out along with the stinger and causes them to die. Honeybees willingly sacrifice themselves when they think the hive is in danger, but they don’t just seek out unsuspecting people to sting them.
What Bees Do at Night
So after literally being busy as bees all day, what do bees do at night? The queen only sleeps at night after her day’s work is done. But if she still has eggs that need to be laid, that can’t wait, and she may work through the night as long as she needs to. Worker bees that forage outside the hive are up all day but return to the hive for the evening when the sun sets and sleep at night. Young worker bees who stay in the hive sleep and wake in shifts throughout the day and night. Some of them always have to be awake to relay messages through the hive about potential danger, and they are also responsible for taking care of the queen and her babies and keeping the entire hive clean. It’s literally a 24-7 job.
Compared to the females, the drones are, well, lazy. They sleep at night and lounge around during the day. They often sleep late in the mornings until roused by the queen bee. It’s really quite a decadent life they’ve built for themselves.
Do Bees Sleep in Flowers?
Yes, some species of bees sometimes sleep in flowers. And it’s usually the (lazy) males that do this. Males really don’t have anything to do in the hive except mate with the queen, and so some will wander around outside the hive waiting for a new queen to emerge. Male bumblebees are particularly apt to remain outdoors at night. Sometimes a female might also stay out all night because she has wandered too far from the hive and is too tired or disoriented to find her way back.
Bumblebees and honeybees are not able to fly at night because they orient themselves in relation to the angle of the sun’s rays. Rather than blindly crawling all the way home, they will just cuddle up inside the nearest flower. Many blossoms tend to close up at night, creating a space that is warmer inside than the surrounding air.
Why Some Species of Bees are Endangered
In recent decades the population of many bees in the United States has been in steep decline. Bumblebees alone are down about 80% and beekeepers report declines in their hive populations of 50% a year in some places. Some of the reasons for this are changes in land use, changing climate, and overuse of pesticides. A lot of rural and suburban land is being developed to expand housing and commercial properties. Farming is increasingly done on a large industrial scale with a single crop grown on many unbroken acres. This may be a crop that is not suitable for some kinds of bees. Pesticides work their way through the ecosystem and affect other species they were not targeted toward. As global temperatures rise, weather patterns have been more chaotic and unpredictable, with floods, droughts, and wider fluctuations between heat and cold.
Some ways you can help the bee population include avoiding the use of pesticides, putting up bee boxes to attract bees to build hives, planting a wide variety of flowers of different colors and shapes that bloom at different times through the season. If, on the other hand, you have an unwanted beehive on your property, call professionals to remove it. Honeybee hives are quite valuable, costing on average about $2,000, so a beekeeper will be more than happy to take it safely off your hands. For other types of bees, hornets, or wasps, call the fire department or an exterminator to have them safely removed based on now rare the species is.
Protecting Yourself from Bee Stings
Finally, if you do want to protect bees but are still worried about getting stung, here are some things you can do to make that less likely.
- Don’t make yourself look and smell like a flower. Bees are attracted to bright colors, strong-scented colognes, soaps, and hair products
- Wear light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible
- If a bee lands on you or buzzes around you, stay still or quietly and slowly move away. You can gently brush the bee away with a book or piece of paper.
- Don’t spend a lot of time around places where there are a lot of bees. Instead of standing right in your flower garden you might want to enjoy it from a little more of a distance.
- Don’t leave food or dirty dishes out. Keep everything covered as much as possible when you have a cookout or picnic.
Treating a Sting
If you do get stung, here are some basic first-aid steps:
- Wash the site with soap and water.
- Remove the stinger by scraping a fingernail over the area. Don’t use tweezers or squeeze the stinger as that could inject more venom.
- Use ice to reduce swelling.
- Don’t scratch at the sting as this can make it worse and cause infection.
Signs of Allergic Reaction
Only a very small percentage of people are severely allergic to bee stings, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you see any of the following signs of a severe allergic reaction, call 911 and use an Epipen if you have one:
- hives, flushed or pale skin
- respiratory problems
- swollen tongue or throat
- weak, rapid pulse
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- dizziness, fainting loss of consciousness.
Hopefully, this article has given you what you need to know about what bees do during the day and where they go at night – especially the question, “do bees sleep in flowers.” They’re highly useful creatures in the natural balance, even essential to the survival of many species. With some thought and effort, you can attract bees to your property and enjoy them from a distance without getting stung.
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