Bee in Harmony - a natural beekeeper's blog

The bee needs her sleep too

Did you know that the bees need their sleep too? In 1983, Walter Kaiser made an interesting discovery: honey bees slept. In 2014, biologists Barrett Klein, Martin Stiegler, Arno Klein, and Jürgen Tautz from the universities of Würzburg and Wisconsin La Crosse (USA) published more research in the journal PLoS ONE. ( Some of their findings include that facts that house bees took about half hour naps in the empty cells in the middle of the comb, while their foraging sisters slept on the outside of the comb during the night. Young bees sleep more than the older ones (which correlates with human sleeping habits, unless we are talking about elderly humans: older bees don’t usually make it in the honey bee colony).

In 2015, another study came out ( claiming that the bees don’t just sleep because there is nothing else to do. They, just like humans, need their sleep to function properly and store their memories. This study may explain why our pollinating colonies, trucked across the US from as far as Florida and Maine all the way to California each year, have such hard time adjusting after they are delivered. Imagine if you were to ride on a truck for days. In a hive, in the dark, the day and night become pretty much the same and their biological clock fails with changing of time zones, so when they are finally let out, sleep deprived and disoriented, both the house bees and the foragers have hard time adjusting. The brood goes hungry, the foragers cannot properly orient themselves and get lost. Would it help to keep them in a quiet hive, untouched, with water and food for 24 more hours before release to catch up on their sleep and get used to the time change? Do they need to see the light and get their biological clocks reset?



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