How Far Do Honey Bees Travel From The Hive?

Bees are unique honey insects that amaze with their endurance and efficiency. Every day honey-gatherers fly over hundreds of flowers in search of pollen and nectar, overcoming long distances. Not only the quality of honey but also its quantity depends on the flight range of the bee.

Experienced beekeepers should always calculate the flight range of small workers. In the article, we will tell you how far do honey bees travel from the hive and what is the average flight speed of a bee, and answer many other interesting questions that will be useful to both experienced and beginner beekeepers.

How Far Do Honey Bees Travel From The Hive?

Table of Contents

What is average and maximum speed of bee in km/h?

Forager bees, which are responsible for finding nectar and pollen and delivering them to the hive, are born exclusively in the warm season. In 2–3 weeks after hatching, the young individual is ready to make the first flights for the substances necessary for the production of bee bread and honey. Stocks of nectar and pollen from honey-bearing flowers and plants are vital for the successful wintering of bees.

For collection, special bees, which are called collectors, are intended. A bee family with great strength, the number of individuals in which reaches up to 15,000, has half of the total number of flying honey plants.

Thanks to numerous clinical studies, scientists have found that the flight speed of a bee depends on many external factors, the main of which are:

  • fullness of the goiter with nectar or its absence;
  • climatic conditions (rain, heat, strong wind);
  • the type of terrain through which the flight is to be made.

What is the speed of a bee that flew out of its dwelling in search of components for making honey and bee bread? The average speed is approximately 30 km per hour.

How fast does a bee fly in windy conditions? The maximum speed of a bee against the direction of a strong wind is 17–20 km per hour. A honey-bearing bee with a filled goiter under the same weather conditions will be able to fly at speeds up to 13 km per hour.

The speed of the forager, which has just taken off from the hive, is about 30 km per hour. But in some sources you can find a figure of 40 and 60 km per hour. What is the speed of a bee loaded with nectar? This individual flies more slowly – about 13-22 km per hour.

Reference. When flying in open space, the maximum speed of a bee is about 35–40 km per hour. The abundance of trees and other obstacles will reduce the speed of the honey bee to 230-250 meters per hour.

how high can a bee fly?

Among beekeepers, there is such a thing as “the useful radius of a bee during the flight.” This is the name of the distance that a bee overcomes from one flower to another with minimal power and food costs. Only such a flight can be effective and beneficial for the bees. Useful radius indicators vary from 1 to 2 km.

The flight range of a bee in an open area when collecting components for making honey depends on how much nectar or honey delicacy the honey bee has in stock. Flying one kilometer, one individual spends up to 0.5 mg of food reserves.

The bee, loaded with food, spends it on flying around the flowers and getting back to the dwelling. It spends more on food than empty bees.

The amount of spent stock that was harvested for transportation to the hive depends on how far the honey bee flies from the hive. The longer the flight range, the greater the costs. While covering a distance of 2 km, an individual spends about 0.7 mg of food reserves and 1.3 mg on returning to the home.

The ideal distance from the location of the apiary to a field with honey plants or flowers is from 1 to 3 km. In this case, the bees will be able to store the required amount of honey for themselves and the beekeeper, spending minimally on food supplies and flight time.

If it is not possible to locate a mini-apiary close to sources of pollen and nectar, you can purchase a mobile apiary, which, if necessary, can be transported closer to the honey plants at any time.

how far do honey bees travel from the hive?

The ideal location of the apiary is 1–2.5 km from the working field of honey bees. Numerous studies by scientists have shown that the average flight range of a hymenopteran bee is much further.

The answer to the common question “how far do bees fly from the hive?” can be given, only taking into account the distance of the location of honey plants from the mini-apiary. The speed of little workers depends on the concentration of sugar nectar: ​​the higher it is, the faster the bees will go after it.

Nectar-gathering bees take 1.5–2 mg of pollen on their way when they leave their homes, this is due to the rapid waste of such reserves. For 1 km, the bee spends 0.3–0.5 mg of food. One flight of the bee is designed for 3–4.5 km.

In addition, scientists have also proven that the maximum flight range of a bee when collecting honey can be up to 12 km from the apiary. Only the strongest bee colonies, with many young working individuals, have such indicators. Weak bee colonies cannot boast of such data, and have the ability to fly away for nectar only 2–3 km from home.

To fly long distances bees are forced by the lack of necessary substances to create a natural honey product. In simple terms, there is not the right amount of nectar and pollen nearby.

Another reason for flying long distances is the search for concentrated nectar. bees can collect especially fragrant and sweet nectar from such honey plants as:

  • wild raspberry bush;
  • apple and pear tree;
  • sweet clover and heather;
  • linden;
  • clover and lungwort officinalis.

How far a bee flies to collect honey components depends on the age of the individual, its condition and weather conditions.

The average lifespan of a forager bee, which is responsible for the process of flying around, collecting and delivering nectar and pollen to the hive, is 1–1.5 months. Such a short lifespan is associated with strong loads that the bee body can withstand only for a short period of time.

The wings of the bees are getting thinner every day. When flying through forests, deformation and microdamages are added. Old individuals can fly only 0.5–1.5 km from the apiary.

The bee stomach can be filled with 7–50 mm3. Only the strongest individuals can take with them the maximum amount of useful substances and transport them to the hive. The collection of bees is carried out by quickly flying from one flower to another.

Honey bee have a small proboscis, which is why they have to crawl inside the flowers to collect pollen.

Leaving the hive and flying out of it, a bee can fly around more than a hundred flowers at a time. If on the way of flight the bee finds a large source of honey collection (for example, hawthorn, apple tree, linden), the individual no longer looks for food sources, and collects in one place.

As soon as the bee finds the desired flower, it climbs onto its central part and examines every corner of it. Thanks to such a thorough examination of the surface, bees find pollen not only on the flower, but also inside it.

After several sorties, accompanied by honey collection, honey bees remember honey plants and the work done with them. In the future, they improve their work and perform it according to the established scheme with the usual flowers and plants.

How much a bee travel in a day?

Bee working days start at 4 am, when the flowers are just beginning to open. The rest period begins around 21.00, at which time the individuals return to the hives for the night. If the bee has collected too much nectar or simply did not have time to fly to the house before dark, it remains on the flower for the night, and only returns to the dwelling in the morning.     

How far does a bee fly in a day? The average duration of one flight is from 15 minutes to 2 hours. At the end of the summer and returning home, the bees remain in the hives for 9–14 minutes. The little worker spends this time not at all on rest, but on transferring the collected sweet product to the receiving bees. Once this process is completed, the bee flies off again in search.

For 1 day, a bee can make from 5 to 12 flights, depending on the location of the sources of honey collection, weather conditions. How far do bees fly for nectar? On average, the total amount of the flight is a distance of 3 to 14 km per day. In one working day, a small bee can fly from 35 to 100 km.

Despite their small size, bees are among the most industrious bees that can boast of special endurance. They can fly around hundreds of flowers per day, collect components from them for making honey nectar and deliver them to the hive.