Honey bees and bumble bees only fly during the day. 
This fascinating fact has come to light, so to speak, as a video of bees not being able to fly without light has gone viral on TikTok and Reddit. The video captures dozens of bees plummeting to the bottom of a laboratory container as soon as the lights are turned off, and has over 19 million views since being posted March 14.
The video, captured and posted on Twitter in December 2021 by postgraduate student Hamish Symington, show bees being studied by fellow student Kristina Buch in the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. That video has more than 11 million views, too.
“I’m surprised it’s an on/off choice for them – no graceful trying to glide to land or anything like that, they literally just stop flying and plummet,” Symington said in the tweet. “Surely that’s more dangerous than keeping flying?”
Here’s another video of bees falling out of the sky when the lights go out. I’m surprised it’s an on/off choice for them – no graceful trying to glide to land or anything like that, they literally just stop flying and plummet. Surely that’s more dangerous than keeping flying?
Most bees, including honey bees and bumble bees, cannot fly at night. They are diurnal, meaning they only fly and pass along pollen during the day. Bees can crawl at night, however.
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Even though these bees cannot technically see, they can use the sun’s rays (polarized light) to guide them, said Quinn S. McFrederick, associate professor of entomology at the University of California Riverside.
Bees have compound eyes, one on each on the side of their head, made up of thousands of small lenses. “So each of their eyes is actually a collection of many, many individual islands,” McFrederick said.
They also have three ocelli or simple eyes, above the compound eyes, that aid in detecting light and movement.  
Other bee species are crepuscular, which means that they are capable of seeing with little light. They fly during dusk, night and early morning to avoid the heat from the sun, according to bee research site School of Bees.
Then, there are nocturnal bees, such as Lasioglossum (Sphecodogastra) texana, or the sweat bee, that can fly when during full moons and half moons, the site says. 
A specific type of forager bee called Halictidae, which lives in the highlands of Panama, has adapted to be able to fly even without the aid of moonlight.
These bees gather nectar and pollen from specific plants that are only active during night time as there is less competition from other insects.
These night-flying bees have different eyes than those who fly out during the day. “Those bees have evolved that kind of neurological trickery to be able to sort of amplify the signal that each photon sends to their brain,” McFrederick said.
“Bees have evolved complex ways to navigate in darkness,” he said.


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