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Geysers of the World   

Geysers of Yellowstone   



  Beehive Geyser
Feature Type: Geyser
Geyser/Spring Type: Cone geyser

Upper Geyser Basin
Geyser Hill

Beehive geyser is a cone-type geyser. Its summer-time intervals during the past few years have ranged from a little over 8 hour to about a day. a few days with most intervals around a day or less. In the winter the intervals have often become longer and more erratic.

Beehive's duration is about 5 minutes. For most of its duration, it maintains its maximum height of as much as 200 feet. Because of the fine spray-like nature of the eruption, the top of the water column is often chopped off by strong winds but the eruption is still impressive.

Beehive Geyser was named by the first organized expedition into what is now Yellowstone National Park, the Washburn expedition of 1870. The name was derived from the shape of Beehive's 4 foot tall cone which the members of the expedition thought looked like an old-fashioned straw beehive.

Beehive is one of my favorite geysers. It is possible to stand closer to this geyser than any other major, frequent geyser. Up close you notice its power as the steam is forced out of its nozzle-like vent at nearly super-sonic speed. It sounds like a jet engine. At a distance you notice the beauty of its soaring veil-like plume. It is truly one of the best shows in Yellowstone.

During three seperate Summers in the 1990's Beehive went dormant (1992 and 1994) or became irregular (1998) for part of the Summer. At these times, Beehive's Indicator started having frequent, regular, "false indicator" eruptions. A False Indicator tends to play with an extraordinarily long duration, sometimes greater than 60 minutes, and does not result in an eruption of Beehive. In late-August 2010 frequent False Indicator eruptions also occurred, with resulting irregularity of Beehive.

From a distance you notice Beehive's size and beauty, up close you are overwhelmed by its power. Either observation point is inspiring.

Beehive is one of the tallest geysers in Yellowstone. Its fine, veil-like plume has been measured to 218 feet. Because of the fine nature of the plume, the top is often knocked down by strong winds but its 5 minute eruption is always one of the highlights of the Upper Geyser Basin.

Beehive erupts from a 4 foot tall, smooth sided cone that reminded the early Washburn Expedition of 1870 of an old fashioned straw beehive. Hence, the name. Beehive erupts from a small vent at the top of the cone. This 4 inch by 10 inch hourglass shaped vent acts as a nozzle, powerfully propelling the water and steam at great velocity to its airy height. When you are standing on the boardwalk near the eruption, you feel and hear the its power. The eruption sounds like a jet engine.

For much of the past few years, Beehive has erupted at least once per day. Unfortunately, Beehive has been known to go dormant at times.

If you want to see Beehive, and I highly recommend it, there are two things you should do when you get to the Upper Geyser Basin. First, go to the Old Faithful Visitor Center and ask about Beehive. Find out how often it is playing and when it was last seen. Second, keep an eye out for Beehive's Indicator Geyser. Near Beehive's cone is a small 10 to 15 foot geyser called Beehive's Indicator. Usually, this small geyser starts 10 to 25 minutes prior to an eruption of Beehive. Rarely, Beehive starts without the indicator. On some very rare occasions during the past few years the indicator has erupted without Beehive responding but this is quite rare. While you are at the Visitor Center, also ask about Beehive's Indicator to get current information to learn how to spot it.

What to look for:
Beehive is closely related to a much smaller geyser located near Beehive's cone. This smaller geyser is called Beehive's Indicator. Beehive's Indicator will often, but not always, start erupting prior an eruption of Beehive Geyser. Usually, Beehive's Indicator gives enough warning so that anyone that sees it can make it to Beehive in time to see Beehive's eruption.

Beehive's Indicator is a cone-type geyser. It erupts from a small jagged hole about ten feet from Beehive's cone. The eruption is characterized by nearly steady jetting to 10-15 feet. If Beehive erupts, Beehive's Indicator will stop during Beehive's eruption. Beehive's Indicator often precedes Beehive by 15 to 20 minutes but can rarely precede it by as little as seconds to as much as 30 minutes.

Eruptions of Beehive's indicator do not always preceded an eruption of Beehive. Rarely in the past few years but more frequently at times in the past, Beehive has been known to erupt without being preceded by the indicator. Prior to all eruptions of Beehive, Beehive splashes. In a no-Indicator eruption, the eruption of Beehive is triggered by an exceptionally large splash from its cone.

Another type of Indicator eruption is termed a "False Indicator" ereuption. The term "false Indicator" is applied to erputions of Beehive's Indicator Geyser that do not result in an eruption of Beehive. False indicators look similar to a normal indicator eruptions (they may be somewhat weaker) but they last longer, as much as 60 minutes, instead of the normal maximum of about 25-30 minutes. False Indicators occur at about the time Beehive is expected to erupt but they do not not result in an eruption of Beehive. Prior to 1992, False Indicators were usually followed a few hours later by a normal Indicator eruption that resulted in an eruption of Beehive

Electronic Monitor Files
Beehive Eruptions for 2003.txtBeehive Eruptions for 2004.txt
Beehive Eruptions for 2005.txtBeehive Eruptions for 2006.txt
Beehive Eruptions for 2007.txtBeehive Eruptions for 2008.txt
Beehive Eruptions for 2009.txtBeehive Eruptions for 2010.txt
Beehive Eruptions for 2011.txt 

Some of the temperature data used to derive the eruption times and durations used in this section were collected by Ralph Taylor under a National Park Service research permit, and the remainder was collected by personnel working for the Geology Department of the Yellowstone Center for Resources (including Ralph Taylor). The loggers are a combination of loggers owned by the NPS and Ralph Taylor. Analysis of the raw temperature data to extract the eruption data was performed by Ralph Taylor. The eruption time files on this website may be used provided that Yellowstone National Park is credited for the temperature data and Ralph Taylor is credited for the eruption times.

Activity Recorded by Data Logger - by Ralph Taylor  

Beehive Geyser has been monitored electronically since 2003. For a number of years I did not think it was feasible to monitor Beehive since the water from the eruptions is ejected high into the air in a relatively small diameter stream and there is therefore no single obvious reliable runoff channel to monitor. In late 2003 a data logger became available and there was great interest in Beehive's activity, so we tried a likely-looking runoff channel. The results were not very good, as I had expected, and quite a few eruptions were missed. The data included here does not incorporate the results during times of frequent missed eruptions, hence the long gap from December of 2003 to June 2004.

In 2004 I moved the logger to a different channel and since that time the results have been much improved. However, during the late winter and spring of 2005 the logger went missing (probably taken by a curious raven or coyote).

In the winter of 2005-6, in early 2007, and in the winter of 2007-8 there were some periods during which no eruptions were recorded and the sensor showed a constant temperature of zero degrees C, suggesting that the sensor was icebound. Based on the appearance of the temperature data, it appears to me that at least some of the long intervals included one or more missed eruptions. For the winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11 I have crosschecked the temperature traces with eruptions reported by webcam observers.

Activity in 2011  
The overall eruption interval statistics for Beehive Geyser in 2011 are shown at Beehive Geyser 2011 Statistics. A pdf of this summary is at Beehive Geyser Recent Activity Summary.

The interval graph shows all of the recorded intervals for 2011. As noted above, during the winter months there is evidence that some eruptions were missed due to ice formations.

The graphs for the current year are updated about every six weeks from October to June and weekly from June to the end of September. The yellow triangles show the eruption start times for Little Squirt Geyser. The Little Squirt eruption times are used as a surrogate for the so-called SMax (South [Geyser Hill] water level MAXimum), which is thought to represent a cyclic change in the hydrothermal energy on Geyser Hill. This hypothesis is described in an article in GOSA Transactions Volume IV titled Cyclic Hot Spring Activity on Geyser Hill, Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park—Graphical and Interpretive Descriptions of the Geyser Hill Wave, Diurnal Effects, Seasonal Disturbances, Random (Chaotic?) Events, and Earthquakes by T. Scott Bryan. The green triangles show the first eruption of each recorded Dome Geyser series. Activity in Dome geyser is also known to affect some other features on Geyser Hill.

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The next graph shows the intervals for the past few months at an expanded time scale.
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The next graph is a histogram of the distribution of intervals. Note that in this and the other histograms displayed here the labels shown on the X-axis represent the upper boundary of the class, not the midpoint. Geyser times are traditionally truncated. The graph at the right has class widths of 30 minutes. The bar appearing above the label "20:00," for example, contains intervals from 19h31m through 20h00m .
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The next graph shows the percentage of eruptions for each hour of the day for the whole year.
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The final graph for 2011 shows the time of day for each eruption during the last three months of the year. This illustrates how Beehive's eruptions tend to "reset" to daylight hours when they have moved to late in the day.
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Activity since 2003  
Beehive's activity has been monitored for most of the year since July 2004, except for a period in 2005 when the logger was missing.

The interval graph plots the recorded intervals against time. The record shows a lot of intervals in the 15-hour range up to around 20 August 2005 when intervals show an increase to the 22-hour range (albeit with some short intervals below 15 hours and a few near 36 hours).

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The plot of the 1-week moving median intervals shows the upward trend in Beehive's intervals since August of 2005.

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Activity in 2010
Activity in 2009
Activity in 2008
Activity in 2007
Activity in 2006
Activity in 2005

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Beehives Indicator Geyser is the small geyser in the left foreground of this picture, with Beehive Geyser erupting from the large cone just behind it. This picture was taken from the boardwalk directly in front of the geyser. The Firehole river can be seen in the background.

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This Picture shows a relatively rare eruption of "Beehive's Second Indicator." The second indicator is the small geyser nearest Beehive's cone. Beehives Indicator is the small geyser further to the right.

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Please note - this site is currently under constuction. Please visit for more information.  Last update 01-29-2017

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