1 Tahrcountry Musings: Bees Observe a Strict Working Day

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Bees Observe a Strict Working Day

Scientists working on bees have come up with a surprising finding. Even in conditions of 24-hour sunlight they observe a regime of strict working day. The research was pioneered by Ralph Stelzer and Lars Chittka from Queen Mary University of London, UK.
The movements of bees during the constant light of the Arctic summer were carefully monitored using radio tags.
Increased daylight provides an opportunity for bees to forage and maximize their intake. But the bees do not take advantage of this opportunity.
For comparison the researchers studied both native bees and a group of bee colonies they imported into the Arctic. Both the sets retired to their nests well before midnight. Maximum activity was around midday.
Stelzer and Chittka are trying to work out the riddle. They speculate that the bees must have some way of telling the time in the absence of day/night cues. They could be sensitive to light intensity or changes in temperature.
Despite the light, temperatures fall during the Arctic 'night'. There is a possibility that the bees return in order to warm their brood. Stelzer and Chittka are determined to get to the root of it.
Details of the work appear in the latest issue of journal BMC Biology.

No comments: