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I've heard from a friend that some bees exhibit behavioral changes during a solar eclipse event. I'd like to know what the changes are.

Apparently there's a cycle that starts as the eclipse begins, enters a different phase during the eclipse and another phase as the eclipse wanes. When the whole event is over, they go back to normal behavior.

Is this true? If so, what are the actual behavioral changes at each phase? Does the species matter?

Ideally, I'm looking for information from reliable scientific sources, but trustworthy anecdotal evidence is acceptable too.

To keep the question from being too broad, I'm limiting it to North America. However, if the same behavioral changes are evident in other parts of the world, answers about those are fine with me, and I can remove the limitation.

  • Did you happen to get this factoid from an article or such people could use as a starting point for their research? I could certainly imagine the semi-sudden relative darkness of a full solar eclipse has an effect on their behavior. – Monster Oct 28 '18 at 21:17
  • Hi @Monster. Actually, it was from a friend who's studying English. She saw an article in her study materials, so I had her send me a link. I think it seems like a good place to start. Let me know if you think otherwise, and I'll do some more research! – Sue Oct 28 '18 at 22:48
  • Interesting. On the flip side, I think you know about as much about the topic as anyone now. That article says this was the first research of its kind and the study was published as recently as Oktober 10 2018. Whether you believe it's true depends on you trusting the researchers, their methods and the peer reviewing biologists that checked the study for quality before it got published. Actual verification of the results will have to wait for a next eclipse. I did track down the original publication: academic.oup.com/aesa/advance-article/doi/10.1093/aesa/say035/… – Monster Oct 29 '18 at 6:10
  • The study is pretty strong in the amount of hives they used. It's not just a single colony that did this. And they monitored different species of bees. – Monster Oct 29 '18 at 6:14
  • They do have pretty large uncertainty bars in figure two, due to differences between colonies, and maybe microphone placement? But the huge drop in average buzzes/minute is still striking. – Monster Oct 29 '18 at 6:22
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There was a study that found that during totality, the bees stopped buzzing suddenly without any gradual slowdown.

The researchers found that while the insects were happily buzzing throughout the day and during the partial phases of the eclipse, the bees went quiet the instant that the total eclipse occurred in their location. Of the 16 monitoring locations the group set up in Oregon, Idaho and Missouri, they identified only a single buzz during totality, compared with a symphony of droning sounds most other times of the day.

“We expected there would be a gradual decrease in the number of buzzes as it got darker and darker, but we didn’t see that,” said Candace Galen, a biologist at the University of Missouri and lead author of the study, which appeared Wednesday in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America. “At totality, they just stopped. It was very surprising.”

The Moon Eclipsed the Sun. Then the Bees Stopped Buzzing.

Also, see

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