Tuesday, March 13, 2012


"Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast."  
 William Shakespeare, Macbeth 



More windy weather today. Right now it's 65F outside but that wind is chilly. Getting rid of tumbleweeds and debris in the yard, so much stuff blows in during these high winds.

Bees seem to take it all in stride...but after all that work, aren't they even the littlest bit tired? I know it makes me tired just to watch them! The other night I stood watching them and I peeled away the cover and peeked in...a few drowsy bees peered out at me blearily. I quickly closed it back up.

So, back to the bees again, just to answer a burning question of mine...do bees sleep? I thought it would be a simple answer, but noooooo....

The answers are based on a study done in 2008 as reported in the Journal of Experimental Biology, entitled Caste-Dependent Sleep of Worker Honey Bees.

First the study had to define what sleep was to bees. A sleeping bee was described as immobile bees whose bodies and legs hang in the direction of gravity.They decided on three forms that would define bee sleep:
  • Immobile
  • Immobile with twitching antennae
  • immobile with immobile antennae

 Then where do bees sleep? Bee sleep can occur in a cell, hanging off comb, on the hive wall, or even on the floor. Where and when bees sleep is determined by their age and their jobs.
Surprisingly, like us, bee sleep patterns depends on age. Here's the breakdown according to age/jobs:
  • Cleaners (up to 3 days old) sleep in shorter bursts, but they usually sleep in the cells
  • Nurses (4-12 days old) sleep in longer time spans, and fewer sleep in cells
  • Storers (13-20 days old) nap even longer, only a few sleep in cells
  • Foragers sleep for the longest durations mostly at night, but seldom in cells.
Young bees tend to sleep inside the cells in the center of the hive. They don't have regular sleep cycles, but catch a quick nap (like, 30 seconds) whenever they can. These young bees tend to wake up for a few hours, then go back to sleep. Young bees work as cell cleaners and nurse bees. They are walking and working in the heart of the hive. It is thought that catching a quick nap in a cell protects them from being bumped and nudged by the other bees working around them, plus it's a lot warmer there.
Older bees tend to sleep on the outer edges of the hive. They sleep in longer increments and at more regular intervals, usually at night. Older bees are packing stores and working as foragers. The foragers tend to sleep outside the cluster. Again, it is thought that maybe the location would provide for a bit of peace away from the youngsters, and the hustle and bustle of the hive. Sometimes, they might just crawl into a cell to get away and catch a nap where it is calm and quiet. The foragers are always thinking of the hive, and sleeping on the outside of the cluster would keep an disease or parasites that they might have picked up out of the brood area of the hive.

Foragers are under a lot of stress and expending as lot of energy doing their jobs. They need to sleep on a regular basis; so it is not surprising that foragers and food storers tend to sleep at night. Their work is daylight-dependent, and when there is no food coming in there is no work to do. At least 50% more foragers catch their sleep in the night than in the day.

When bees don't get enough sleep they cannot function well in their jobs, much like humans! If you would like to read the entire study, here's the link. Here's a video of tired bees.

You Might Be A Redneck IF...

  • When you hear someone talking about the King, and you don't know whether they are talking about Elvis or Richard Petty
  • You use a pig for a garbage disposal
  • You can't go to church this year because your Sunday socks are being used as the truck's gas cap
  • You think vowels are E.I.E.I.O
  • You clean out your car or truck with a leaf blower
  • Your tackle box contains dynamite and blasting caps
  • You have the policeman hold your beer while you get your license.
  • Your coffee table used to be a telephone cable spool
  • You keep a can of Raid on the kitchen table
  • You've ever used a toilet seat as a picture frame
  • Your home has more miles on it than your car.
  • There is a stuffed possum anywhere in your house
  • You own a homemade fur coat
  • Your wife can climb a tree faster than your cat


Answer tomorrow

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