Monday, December 11, 2006 - 10:47 AM

Temporal availability of food resources affects sleep schedules of honey bees

Barrett Anthony Klein,, University of Texas - Austin, Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, Section of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX and Thomas D. Seeley,, Cornell University, Neurobiology and Behavior, Seeley G. Mudd Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) foraging is primarily constrained by when food resources are available. Time of foraging may in turn influence time of sleeping. Honey bees readily learn to forage at particular food sources at specific times of day. Honey bees also exhibit behavioral characters diagnostic of sleep. To determine whether the daily schedule of food resources affects the sleep schedules of honey bee foragers, we transplanted two colonies on two separate dates in two-frame observation hives to a biological station devoid of honey bee colonies and with limited natural food resources. We trained individually marked bees to forage for two days at a sugar solution feeder in the morning (6:45-9 AM) and examined behaviors suggestive of sleep [immobility of body (apart from discontinuous ventilatory movements of the gaster) and immobility of the antennae] across a 24h period. We then shifted the bees' foraging period for two days to the late afternoon (4-7 PM) and reexamined sleep signs exhibited by the same bees across a second 24h period. Although the number of observations of sleep signs exhibited by foragers did not differ between morning and afternoon treatments, the timing of the sleep signs did differ for both colonies. Shifting temporal availability of food resources shifted the sleep schedules of the foragers, suggesting that plasticity in timing of foraging is matched by plasticity in timing of sleep.

Species 1: Hymenoptera Apidae Apis mellifera (honey bee)

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