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10 Possible Reasons Why Do Bees Walk On The Ground

Why Do Bees Walk On The Ground

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I often see bees walking on the ground around my honey bee colonies. Initially, I was very curious to know why do bees walk on the ground. Then I discovered several reasons that could be responsible for these bees crawling or walking on the ground.

Lack of food sources, weak bees, expelled bees, and ground-nesting bees are the main reasons why you have seen bees walk on the ground. 

Is this enough for you? Definitely not. There are plenty of other reasons why you might see bees walking on the ground.

In this post, I am going to discuss with you 10 possible reasons I have discovered behind bees walking on the ground.

Also, if you are a beekeeper should you ignore when you see bees on the ground? What you should do under this circumstance? Everything will be discussed in this single post.




When A Bee Walk On The Ground?

You can see bees walking on the ground at any time of the year. But bees are more likely to walk on the ground during fall and winter. Having bees on the ground depends on various factors.

Which includes the availability of food sources, the location of water sources, the strength of the colony, and so many more.

During fall the beehive become overpopulated. Moreover, flowering plants decrease. So, bees are more likely aggressive during this season. So, bees might expel some weak or drone bees. This is why you see a comparatively large no. of bees walking on the ground during fall.

During winter I have seen my honey bees crawling on the ground close to my beehives. Then I discovered they are collecting water drops from moist ground.

So, during winter there could be water sources available comparatively close to the beehive on the ground. So, rather than going far from the beehive to collect water from a pond or similar sources, bees would prefer to collect water from the moist ground close to their hive.

When Do Bees Walk On The Ground



In most cases, bees walk on the ground temporarily. Then they might return to their hive. But in some cases, you might see bees are always on the ground for a few days. And they are not dead or weak bees.



Why Are Bees Always On The Ground?

If you see bees always on the ground but they don’t have any weakness. Probably these bees are ground bees. Ground bees create their nest on the ground. They collect food mainly from the ground too. This is why ground bees are always on the ground.

Ground-nesting bees mainly depend on flowers close to the ground and other small insects. They are less likely aggressive than honey bees. You can easily identify them by identifying small holes of a few mm in diameter on the ground.

You can also sometimes see these bees coming out from holes in the ground. But in the case of other bees like honey bees, they can’t survive on the ground for long times. 




Why Do Bees Walk On The Ground

Now it comes to the main point of why bees walk on the ground. I have discovered 10 possible reasons behind this. Some of these are discovered from my own honey bee behaviors. And others are collected from the internet and from other sources.

It is also seen sometimes bees are clustering on the ground for a while. This means bees swarm on the floor. What are the reasons behind it?



Why Do Bees Swarm On The Floor?

This is because either they haven’t found their suitable nesting site or the queen becomes weaker during the swarming. When the queen becomes weak during the swarm it falls on the floor.

Other worker bees do not want to swarm without the queen. Because the queen is the heart of the colony. So, bees won’t be able to survive long without the queen.

This is why worker bees are clustering around the queen to provide her shelter. The cluster keeps the queen warm and takes necessary care of her. When she becomes strong the flight takes place again to their destination.

Once I have seen one of my colony swarms away. But I figure out they are just clustering on the crops field a few kilometers away from the hive. I recognized some worker bees are flying around. There were no trees around as this was a big crop field.

So, as there were no suitable nest sites they are clustering on the floor. The scout bees are trying to find a new suitable location for them.

Then I took them from the ground and reallocated them to a new hive. Because they swarmed because the old hive becomes overpopulated. So, the old queen with few worker bees tries to swarm away for a new nest.

But the flight takes place before identifying the nest site due to some emergency. Unfortunately, they haven’t found any suitable nest sites around. So, they clustered on the floor of crop land.



10 Possible Reasons Behind Bees Walk On The Ground

Now let’s discuss the 10 possible reasons why you might see bees walk on the ground.

10 possible reasons why do bees walk on the ground
10 possible reasons why do bees walk on the ground




1)Flowering Plants Are Very Closed To The Ground

Sometimes flowering plants are very close to the ground. So, bees require to collect pollen from these plants. So, they came out of their hive to the ground. Then crawl through the ground to collect pollen. And then they return to their nest after collecting the pollen.



2) They Might Be Ground Bees

Ground bees create their nest on the ground and depend on food sources in the ground. So, the bees you might see can be ground bees too. 

Once I discovered a few bees walking on the ground far from my hives. They are very close and look like my honey bees. I worried that is there any problem in any of my colonies.

Then I figure out that my colony have no problem at all and even these bees are not from any of my colonies.

Then I saw that bees are going inside the ground in a hole. So, I came to know that these are actually ground-nesting bees, not honey bees.

You might see some ground bees try to chase you. But they won’t sting you. This is because ground bees are not aggressive. The male ground bees try to drive fear to their enemy from which they got any threat. Usually, they are very less aggressive.

One thing I would like to share with you. That is I have another article on which I discussed are ground bee pollinators or not. So, if you are interested to learn you can check that.



3) The Colony Might Have A Disease

Honey bee colonies might get attacked by various diseases like AFB, Varroa mite attack, etc. In this situation, weak bees can fall to the ground. So, they become very weak and unable to fly.

Under this circumstance, they try to collect food from the ground until they die. I have discovered a lot of dead bees on the ground several times due to mite infestation.

One of my colonies is totally destroyed. And the other one has swarmed away. So, I had to put the destroyed colony beehive in the fire. But I reused my abandoned beehive instead of destroying it completely.



4)Due To Attack By Predators

Honey bee colony always a center of attraction for various predators. Because skunks and some other animals like honey more than any other food. So, they can attack the honey bee colony to steal honey from the colony.

These predators may include Bears, giant Lizards, Racoons, giant frogs, skunks, foxes, Woodpeckers, Crows, giant spiders, etc. Sometimes giant hornets also attack honey bee colonies.

Honeybees always try their best to defend the colony. During this some bees might die or some might lose their wings. Some might get serious injuries. These bees walk on the ground as they become unable to fly.



5)Due To Pesticides and Household Cleaner Impact

It is always prohibited to use harmful pesticides close to a beehive. But some beekeepers due to lack of knowledge use pesticides close to the hive that can harm bees. These pesticides can negatively impact bees. Bees can get seriously injured. So, they fall to the ground and started crawling.

Some household cleaners like simple soap and water can also be harmful to honey bees. Using High concentrations of bleach water can also kill bees. So, it is strictly prohibited to use such chemicals around bees.

Such pesticides might include and household cleaners can include.

  1. Soap water.
  2. Bleach water.
  3. Neonicotinoids.
  4. Starting fluid.
  5. Mosquito killers.
  6. Poisonous chemicals.

There are plenty of other pesticides and cleaners that can be responsible for injuring bees. So, this could be a strong reason why you notice bees walking on the ground.



6) Lack Of Flowers

During winter and spring, there could be less amount of flowers. Sometimes depending on the environment and geographic area there could be no flowers. Have you ever thought about what do bees eat when there are no flowers?

They actually eat tree sap, honeydew, and other small insects from the ground. This is why during this season you might see some bees walking on the ground.



7) Weak bees and having deformed wings

Sometimes bee colonies become weak for various reasons. So, the weak bees might fall to the ground while they are flying to collect nectar. So, they fall to the ground and try to walk through the ground to reach their hive.

I have noticed this phenomenon so many times. I also saw some of my honey bees walking on the ground those having deformed wings. Due to their inability of flying they crawl on the ground.



8)Expelled Bees

Honeybees are social in nature. But the majority of the other bee species are solitary in nature. When bees found weak members in a colony they expelled those bees from the colony.

Drone bees getting expelled to the ground
overpopulated colony


They either kill the weak members or pull them to the ground from the colony. Those expelled weak bees try to crawl on the ground. Because everybody tries hard to not die.

There are several reasons why bees are usually expelled from beehives. This may include the following.

  1. When there is a lack of flowers reproduction should be limited. So, worker bees either kill or expel some of the drone bees from the colony.
  2. If some portion of the colony got attacked by disease they are expelled from the colony to save others.
  3. If the hive becomes overpopulated some drone or weak bees also get expelled.
  4. If the queen tries to forcefully develop autocracy in the colony. The workers attack her and expelled her from the colony.


9)Due To Pest and Parasitic Mites

There are so many parasites and pests around a beehive that try to live inside the honey bee colony. Such pests that harm bees can include ants, spiders, hornets, wasps, earwigs in beehives, etc.

Besides varroa mites, there is another serious harmful parasitic mite for the honey bee colonies. That is tracheal mites.

This is a dangerous mite that attacks honey bees respiratory system. They reproduce inside the honey bees by eating the bee’s blood. As a result, the bee becomes weaker and falls to the ground.

If necessary steps haven’t been taken within a short time the entire colony might die. If you see any syndrome is responsible for why bees walking on the ground don’t waste time.

Call for a specialist to help you and take the necessary steps to save the colony.



10)Due To Water Sources

Bees always prefer collecting food and water from the nearest location to their hive. So, if they found any water source on the ground close to their nest. They will go to that location instead of traveling a long distance.

During winter dew drops may accumulate in a small flattened place on the ground. So, bees will collect water from that source as they require only a small amount of water.

I have also seen it during rainy seasons. My honey bees collect stagnant water in the ground due to rain. For this reason, it is common to see bees walk on the ground.


There are plenty of other possible reasons why you can see bees walking on the ground. But these 10 are the most common possible reasons why bees walk on the ground.




What To Do If You See A Bee Walk On The Ground?

In most cases, it is normal to see bees walking on the ground for food or other reasons. But sometimes it could be because the bee is struggling. Or the colony is in danger. If you find your honey bee colony is in danger or the bee on the ground is struggling you should help them.



How Do You Know If A Bee Is Struggling In The Ground?


How Do You Know If A Bee Is Struggling
A bee struggling on the ground


When you see bees walking on the ground it can be because it is struggling. You can identify whether a bee is struggling or not by looking at some common signs. Those might include the following.

  1. The bees have deformed or broken wings.
  2. It is trying to fly but is unable to do so.
  3. It even can’t walk properly.
  4. Some dead bees around the hives.

If you see any of these symptoms it means your bees are struggling. They need your help. To help bees and bee colony that is struggling you can do the following.

  1. Add sugar syrup: If you noticed bees on the ground due to a lack of food sources available. Add sugar syrup to your colony.
  2. Place Water Source Closed To The Hive: Sometimes bees need to collect water from a far location. Putting a water source close to their hive will reduce their work.
  3. Mite Treatment: In case your hive got attacked by mites you should provide the necessary mite treatments. Otherwise, the entire beehive can be destroyed. You can apply an alcohol wash or try other ways to treat mite attacks in your hive.
  4. Split A Overpopulated Hives: Providing sufficient foods and splitting overpopulated hives will prevent drone bees expellation from the hive. Also, it will reduce the chances of bees swarming away.
  5. Call For Mite Control Experts: If you are not sure how to figure out the problem and treat your honey bee colony. Call for a mite control expert they will help you to sort it out.





Frequently Asked Questions Related To Why Bees Walk On The Ground


Why do Carpenter bees walk around on the ground at night?

There could be several reasons why carpenter bees can walk around on the ground at night. This may include the bee starving looking for food, or trying to look for suitable shelter. The temperature could be very cold so it becomes unable to fly.

Why do Bumble bees walk on the ground?

Possible reasons are the bees might be expelled from the colony. Or it is looking for foods close to the ground. Otherwise, it is injured and unable to fly. Bumble bees are solitary in nature and some of them can live in the ground. So, those ground-nesting bumble bees commonly walk on the ground for gathering food and for other reasons.

What are the little bees that hover over the ground?

Well, these could be hoverflies that look like bees but actually, they are not bees. They are totally harmless as they don’t sting. But they can mimic the behavior of ground bees. Some ground-nesting bees can also hover over the ground.




Final Words

Hopefully, now you know the possible reasons why do bees walk on the ground. If the bees are ground bees just leave them alone. Don’t interrupt them they won’t harm you.

In case you see these are honey bees that are struggling. You should help them. Otherwise, the colony might have a serious problem and they might die.

Saving the greatest pollinators of the world is every human’s responsibility. Not to kill them. Happy Apiary!


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