´Can Bees predict the weather?´ – There are many sayings about animals as weather forecasters, for example, ¨Birds flying high expect a clear sky. When they fly low, expect rain and a blow.¨ But what about honeybees? According to the famous scholar Aristotle they could, but is it really true?
Beekeepers are probably the better judges. Over time, they learn a substantial amount about bees by observing their behavior. However, Chinese researchers have proven that bees seem to be able to predict a change in weather.
Changes in weather are no isolated events. For example, an approaching storm is generally accompanied by a drop in temperature. The wind picks up and the barometer rises and rainfall starts to become heavier. Before rainfall, low-level nimbus (lat. ´rain´) clouds, nimbostratus or cumulonimbus form less than 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) from Earth. These rainclouds are very dense, which means the sky appears darker. According to research, clouds can enhance the amount of UV radiation on earth by virtually 50%, above of what we can see on days without a single cloud with a bright blue sky. Theoretically, this could mean bees could potentially experience a change in their vision when the weather changes because they can see ultra-violet light. This could be an early indicator of rainfall for the bees, allowing them to forecast rain.
In their study, the researchers tagged 300 foraging honeybees from three different colonies with a tiny RFID (Radio Frequency Identifaction) to track them. They monitored their foraging habits 24 hours for 34 days on sunny days that were followed by rainy days and vice versa. The result showed that honeybees work harder before rainfall.