How a Solar Eclipse Affects Your Bees
Posted on August 18, 2017
If you are anywhere in the United States today, August 21, 2017, you will be able to see the moon block out a portion of the sun—and if you’re in the 70 mile wide Path of totality, you will witness the rare, once-in-a-lifetime event of a Total Solar Eclipse.
The phase of the moon, the distance between the Earth Sun, and Moon and the exact time of day are all factors that come into play for Eclipses—combine that with having to physically be in a location on the planet that the shadow of the moon will pass over during those few moments when everything is aligned makes the event even more rare.
Because this is such a once-in-a-lifetime event, most people have their eyes on the skies, watching the spectacular corona aura in the darkened sky above instead of on the ground observing animal behavior. You may be wondering how the eclipse will affect your bees. Here’s what some historical accounts tell us:
Excerpt from “Eclipse: The celestial phenomenon that changed the course of history”
“At about 10 A.M. in the morning of May 18, 1780 the sky started to dim and by 11 there was darkness all around....The Sun was blanked to such an extent that it was impossible to read a newspaper…Cows ambled back to their sheds, fowl went to their roosts, bees returned to their hives, other insects went quiet, and flowers closed their petals.”
Excerpt from “The total Solar Eclipse, 1900”
[During the total eclipse of 1900, the following observations were made by the Baron De Soutellinho of Portugal]
”There were two hives of bees under observation, and in front of the hives were some plants of borage.
2:20 The bees were lively at the hives and on the borage.
3:05 Still lively. 3:30 Crowding into hives and leaving the borage.
3:32 No bees on borage, a few still entering hive.
3:40 Bees rushing in crowds out of hive.
3:50 Borage again covered with bees.”
Excerpt from The Solar Eclipse of Aug. 30, 1905 “The American Beekeeper, 1906”
During the last eclipse of the sun, an apiculturist of Pau, in the southern portion of France, noticed that the obscurity came so quickly that the bees which were out could not find the entrances of their hives in time. The covers, the ground around and in the apiary and other objects were covered with bees that had succeeded in coming in that far, but failed to get in. They remained perfectly quiet until the eclipse was over.”
If you happen to have a hive or two in the path of totality and you take the time to enjoy the eclipse while spending time with your bees, let us know what you see. We’d love to hear all about your observations!