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Not-So-Busy Bees

June 21, 2018

Bees take a break from work every night, even when the sun never sets.


(Riala/Pixabay CC0)

(Riala/Pixabay CC0)

The real secret lives of bees…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Every year, bumblebee colonies engage in a race against time to build up their work force and produce new queens before the end of summer. In temperate latitudes, the bees use all available daylight hours to forage for their colony. So biologists Ralph Stelzer and Lars Chittka of Queen Mary University wondered whether they would keep working 24 hours a day if given the chance. Chittka says they transported bumblebee colonies to the Arctic Circle, and tracked their activity during the summer solstice, when the sun never sets.

LARS CHITTKA (Queen Mary University):
What they did instead was shut down their activities around 11 p.m. or midnight, and started again that next morning at around 8. We were surprised by that.

But the scientists think that getting good night’s sleep might help the bees remember where the best foraging sites are. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.