Sleep-deprived bees make poor dancers: Study

December 14th, 2010 - 2:18 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 14 (ANI): Like humans, bees aren’t at their best on the job if they’ve been deprived of sleep, according to a new study.

The research showed that sleep-deprived bees are less proficient than their well-rested hive mates at indicating the location of a food source to other members of the colony by waggle dancing - the figure-of-eight dance used to communicate the quality and location of nectar supplies to the hive, reports Nature

Like all animals, European honeybees (Apis mellifera) rely on a sleep-like state of inactivity to survive - but sleep in insects and the effects of sleep deprivation on their behaviour are poorly understood.

Barrett Klein, who led the study as a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, says that sleep deprivation could conceivably affect bees when hives are invaded by predators or parasites, when apiculturists transport colonies over long distances, or as an everyday consequence of the busy nature of hives.

“Bees bustle around, frequently bumping into each other. It’s also possible that sleep deprivation could exacerbate colony collapse disorder,” he adds, referring to recent alarming declines in bee populations worldwide, “although this hasn’t been tested.” he says.

The study has been published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1. (ANI)

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