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Bee sleep

1064 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Phoebee
In bee school we were told that bees don't sleep. I thought that was a bit odd, but I'm so in awe of the bee "work ethic", I was willing to buy into it.

However, I've noticed some bees taking a rest outside the hives, so that got me wondering about it over the last few weeks.

Then the latest Science News came, and in it an article of a study on a species of fruit fly. They determined that fruit flies sleep, and furthermore if they don't get enough sleep when young, it leads to developmental problems later. If a fly with an adult life stage of only a few days to maybe a week needs to sleep, then certainly a bee with an adult life stage of weeks needs to as well.

So that triggered me to look up honeybee sleep, and it would appear that they do sleep. The type, location, and amount of sleep they get changes with age. One does have to be specific in defining "sleep", since obviously they don't close their eyes. They do, however, at least relax and become relatively immobile for periods of time.

The above refers to a study here:

Some of those bees you think are busy cleaning out cells? They're catching 30 winks.

One of the perks of being a forager is you get to sleep at night. No doubt a seniority thing.
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Great post!
Funny you should mention this because yesterday I was thinking if there has been any studies done with "light" effects at the entrance of hives (pseudo daytime) to see if there is any increase in activites by fooling the bees that its morning 24/7.
Or looked at another way, what are the effects of not keeping the hive interior dark? A screened bottom board lets in a lot of light, and an observation hive even more. Does that affect the ability of younger bees to catch a quick nap? Would that, in turn, lead to development problems similar to those found in the fruit fly study?

Or maybe the habit of taking a nap with your head down in a cell is NOT something that happens in a closed hive, and that the observers are causing this behavior by using observation hives to do their studies?

All this is within the reach of an observant amateur researcher willing to invest a little time and perhaps invest a few hundred $$ in an inspection camera. Mine has too large a head but I could get one with a 6 mm head that might do the job. Except that it would need to work in the dark. Thermal imaging would probably help, as a sleeping bee probably cools off as well.
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