Bees are fascinating creatures and in recent years, many of us have become increasingly aware of their importance in our world, so it’s only natural that people want to learn more about how bees operate and what they need.
If you have ever observed bees flying around free or in an enclosure of some kind, you might have wondered “are bees attracted to light?” It makes sense that they might be, since many insects use light as a means of navigating.
If you have an outdoor light on your porch, you may also have noticed that there are dead bees scattered around this every morning, which can be pretty upsetting if you love these little insects.
You might wonder why they fly around the light instead of returning to their hives, which would seem like the obvious behavior for them to follow when night falls. Most bees become inactive at night, so why do some hang around your home and fly into the light instead?
It isn’t always obvious why insects behave the way that they do, but it is common knowledge that many are attracted to bright lights and will fly into them when given the opportunity. This can be very damaging to the insects and disrupts their normal patterns of behavior.
Are Bees Attracted To Light?
Yes, bees are attracted to light, and this is true of artificial lights as well as natural light such as sunlight; this means that they will often fly up to outdoor lights when they are left on during the hours of darkness.
You may have seen them doing this if you have an outdoor light that you leave on during the warm months when the bees are active. This attraction to light is called Phototaxis and it is common among insects of all different kinds.
Although most bees will go into their hives and become inactive at night, it is possible for a bright light near to the hive (or on the bee’s route home to the hive) to trigger a positive phototactic response, and this calls the bee toward the light, regardless of the time of day.
Bees, after all, do not necessarily know that it is nighttime; they just know that there is a bright light nearby, and that they are drawn toward it. They can travel quite a distance to reach the light, but they are more likely to be drawn in if the light is close to their hive.
In general, bees will not leave the hive just because there is a bright light nearby, as they usually become inactive at night.
Young bees are often active at night, but these remain in the hive and do not venture out, and they lack the positive phototactic response, so they will not be drawn in.
Does Light Kill Bees?
If you have ever heard the saying “like moths to flames,” you will be aware that unfortunately, insects are so attracted to light that they will fly into it even if it kills them.
The light is hot and may emit wavelengths that are harmful to the insects, which could result in their death if they stay too close to the light for too long. Additionally, the bees may exhaust themselves by flying round and round a light when they should be resting in the hive.
Unfortunately, therefore, light does kill bees, and if you leave a light on at night, you should not be surprised to find it surrounded by bees and other dead insects in the morning.
During the day, the strength of the sunlight should be enough to keep the bees on their natural course and ensure that they don’t keep flying into the light.
It is possible for a bee to be attracted to an artificial light during the day, but this will usually only happen if it has flown close to a powerful light and the sun is hidden by clouds or otherwise not visible.
Usually, bees won’t be killed by an artificial light in the daytime, and as they sleep at night, the risk should be fairly minimal – but during the twilight, when they are traveling home to their hive, they may be caught out.
What Light Does Not Attract Bees?
Sometimes you need a light on for safety or convenience, but you might be upset about the idea of accidentally drawing in and potentially killing off the bees in your area, especially if you keep them or you are keen on preserving nature.
If so, the best thing to do is find lights that reduce the attraction that insects feel while still providing a decent amount of illumination. This is far more effective than any over-the-counter deterrents that you might buy.
The best options are usually red or yellow bulb lights, as these don’t attract the bees as much, and should therefore be pretty safe to use.
This end of the light spectrum is hard for bees to see, so if you can, purchase a red bulb for anywhere that you need to use a light late at night. You can often purchase flashlights with this kind of bulb too.
Of course, the safest option of all is to turn the light off if you can, and if you keep bees yourself, it’s a good idea to build the hives so that they face away from the building.
This will help to ensure that the bees return to the hive as they should when dusk comes, rather than getting distracted or lured out by lights that look like the sun.
Simply put, the answer to “are bees attracted to light?” is a firm yes, they are attracted to pretty much every kind of light that there is, and they will fly around and around an electric light just like a moth will. However, they cannot see lights on the red end of the spectrum well, so these should be safe enough to use without disrupting the local bees, and are the best option if you want a light outside at night during the warm months when bees are foraging.