The work of collecting pollen
Bees flitting from one flower to another are doing more than just topping up their tank, by sipping the sweet nectar, they’re loading up the pollen sacs to take home.
Pollen is bee money.
It keeps the bee hive maintenance crew on the job, so the hive is cool and clean, plus it feeds her royal highness, the queen and her enormous brood.
Just as more money means more, in the human world. More pollen, means more in the bee world too.
More sun, more pollen, richer bees ?
Constant daylight, a situation encountered in an Arctic summer, would give foraging bees an opportunity to bring back a lot more pollen. No longer constrained by the light availability they should be able to stuff their little pollen sacs continuously.
More sun would allow for maximum productivity and bigger better bee colonies. Right ?
24 hours of sun does not route to riches
Researchers from Queen Mary University of London, tracked the foraging activities of bees, both local residents, as well as bees imported for the study, at a research station in Northern Finland. Each bee was fitted with a radio tracking device and it’s movements throughout a 24 hour period monitored.
The bees did not keep going despite the 24 hours of daylight, they took an “overnight” break. Researchers found that their peak performance occurred around midday and they emptied the pollen sacs and went to bed, well before midnight.
Adhering to strict day and night shifts happened in bees who are accustomed to the LONG days of summer, as well as those who had just popped in for the summer.
Bees believe in sleep
It is not known how the bees tell time, but clearly a longer day does not yield the best ROI (return on investment) for the colony.
Bees know they need some downtime – do you ?
Bee like the bees
A whole bunch of biological, physiological, and behavioural activities follow a 24 hour cycle, including your triglycerides (fat levels). Working “the night shift” disrupts the usual rise and fall of triglycerides leaving them stuck on high, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease.Bumblebee foraging rhythms under the midnight sun measured with radiofrequency identification. BMC Biology (2010) 8:93 Ralph J Stelzer and Lars Chittka.
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