How Far Do Bees Travel?
There’s a plethora of bee species — each with different traveling patterns, flying speeds, and distance ranges. As a beekeeper, you would want to place a hive nearby local flora or your bee-friendly flower garden to get the best out of it. To do this, know the traveling pattern and maximum traveling distance specific to your bee’s species.
Bees leave their hives and migrate at different distances for various reasons. For example, for nectar, pollen or a water source. Having such knowledge of how far they could travel for any of these reasons is a crucial factor to consider when getting a healthier hive.
How Far Can Bees Travel for Food?
The answer to this is different for each species, of which we focus on:
- Solitary bees
Honeybees usually fly within the range of 1 and 6 km, but sometimes go up to 13.5 km. In fact, some honeybees go as far as 20 km from their hive. With these discoveries, it’s clear that honeybees are no doorstep foragers.
Until we add the temperature and availability of food to the equation, all bees move at their farther range only when the weather’s ideal. They attain full foraging activity at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit — this is the same for honeybees.
During winter, they require a minimum of 55 degrees Fahrenheit to remain active in foraging. With fewer flowers available, honeybees would look to be economical with their energy by becoming doorstep foragers.
Bumblebees, Bombus terrestris L., are just like the honeybees; they don’t prefer to forage for pollen and nectar close to their hive. Still, their foraging range isn’t so wide like the honeybees. They fly moderate distances; for instance, Bombus pascuorum doesn’t forage at any distance less than about 312 meters. Bombus terrestris doesn’t forage less than 625 meters from the hive.
As you can see from the numbers, bumblebees thrive better with shorter foraging trips that are energy efficient and safer.
We generalize such bees to be close-by foragers, but that’s not true. Solitary bees, along with other bee species, don’t have any research source that can confidently prove their foraging distance. Solitary bees can forage only at short distances to save energy and be safer, like the Melipona fasciata. It flies between 1 and 2.4 km.
The Euglossine bee, Euplasia surinamensis, was observed returning home from a distance of 24 km. Other solitary bees were also seen returning from distances of 14, 20 and 20 km with full pollen baskets.
How Far Can Honeybees Fly For Water?
A bee’s body is made mostly out of water, and it needs a lot of it to survive.
Honeybees can go as far as 8 km to get a suitable watering source, and they come back to the hive with almost a gallon of water every day.
During hot days, honeybees focus more on getting water than pollen and nectar until the weather is suitable for pollination once again.
Do Human Activities Affect a Bee’s Traveling Plans?
To know how far bees travel for food and water, you have to be aware of the external factors that affect them negatively. For instance, the use of pesticides that contain neonicotinoids tends to inhibit the natural behavior and flight pattern of a bee. It also greatly affects their ability to forage for pollen, nectar and water.
EMF and radiation from our technology cause harm to the bees. They interfere with the natural compasses of the bees, making it hard for them to travel precisely and safely. The situation is just as bad for the bees as it is for us — it fast-tracks the damage to the agricultural landscape and food supply.
Most species of bees have their own defined traveling range for food and a water source. In ideal conditions, some can fly long distances, like the honeybees and bumblebees. Others, such as solitary bees, fly shorter distances due to energy constraints and safety factors.
When the conditions aren’t so favorable, their flying distances shorten. This could be because of the weather, availability of food and human activities, such as EMP and radiation.