Social environment changes bees' behaviour and internal clocks

Written by: Samyuktha
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Washington, Sep 15 (ANI): A new study has suggested that honeybees, which are removed from their usual roles in the hive, undergo changes in their behaviour and internal clocks.

These findings indicate that social environment has a significant effect on the physiology and behaviour of animals.

Guy Bloch and his colleagues from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, studied bees in part because of their complex social environment.

One role in bee society is the "nurse": bees that are busy at all times caring for larvae. This continuous activity is different from other bees and animals, whose levels rise and fall throughout the day.

Bloch and his team thought that changing the nurse bees' social environment might alter their activity levels, so they separated them from their larvae.

"Our findings show that circadian rhythms of honey bees are altered by signals from the brood that are transferred by close or direct contact," said Bloch.

"This flexibility in the bees' clock is striking, given that humans and most other animals studied cannot sustain long periods of around-the-clock activity without deterioration in performance and an increase in disease," he said.

The results suggest that the bees' internal clocks were shaped by certain social cues.

Jurgen Tautz, PhD, of the Julius-Maximilians Universitat Wurzburg, said it is a wonderful example of the tightly regulated interactions between genes and behavior in a bee colony.

"The presence or absence of larvae switched the genes 'on' or 'off,' which guaranteed the adaptive behavior of the bees," said Tautz.

The findings appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience. (ANI)

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