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Do Honey Bees Sleep?

Do Honey Bees Sleep?
Do Honey Bees Sleep? 2

Do honey bees sleep?

Well, of course they do! They are busy little bees, and they require rest just like us.

Several scientific studies have been performed on bee sleep with some fascinating results.

Bees have 3 distinct sleep stages, the first sleep stage, second sleep stage and third sleep stage. The stage of sleep a bee is in can be determined by the amount of small muscle movement at rest (such as antenna twitches).

Sleep is critically important for bees and the wellbeing of a colony. A 2010 study found that sleep deprivation in honey bees negatively impacted their waggle dance, impacting both those performing the dance as well as the observers. This breakdown of communication results in less efficient foraging.

Where do bees sleep?

Forager bees tend to sleep outside of cells at the edges of frames or on hive walls, while juvenile bees often sleep head first inside a cell. Some bees even “lay down” to sleep on the hive floor! Bees may also rest on flowers or structures while outside of the hive.

Honey bees sleeping
Image Source: Journal of Experimental Biology 2008 211: 3028-3040; doi: 10.1242/jeb.017426

When do bees sleep?

Bees do not sleep for hours at a time like we do or have clear sleep cycles (REM or non-REM), rather they take multiple sleep bouts (think “naps”) and have brief interruptions in sleep for things like grooming. Likewise, when bees wake up, they do not go from slumber immediately into activity, but also pass through the grooming stage before activity.

While foragers may take naps during the day, they are typically busy collecting for the colony throughout the day and have a distinct circadian rhythm, limiting the majority of their sleep to night. Younger bees are active 24 hours a day sleep both during the day and night. 

How long do bees sleep?

Forager bees take roughly 50 sleep bouts through the night, while juvenile bees take roughly 40 sleep bouts. Older take longer sleep bouts than younger bees.

Bees sleep for a total of 5-8 hours in a 24 hour period.

Native bee sleeping:

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