Do bees snuggle up in their beds at night like us? Do they even sleep? I'm sure this question has been keeping you up at night.
The answer is yes, bees do sleep. Bees are extraordinarily productive, they are busy buzzing around all day collecting pollen and nectar, so unsurprisingly they need to squeeze some rest time into their schedule. Like humans bees rest and sleep at night.
This all seems obvious however, it wasn’t studied scientifically until Walter Kaiser in the 1980s observed their sleep-wake cycles. His studies confirmed that when bees sleep their antennae will stop, their head and tail tuck in and the wings rest on their body. Female solitary bees sleep in their nests but male solitary bees sleep outside, resting in places like grass stalks or in flowers. If a bee is really tired it sometimes falls over sideways! Many bees also hold each other’s legs as they sleep, or the legs are folded beneath the body. Normally honey bees sleep between 5 & 8 hours a day. Most rest at night when darkness prevents them going out to collect pollen & nectar.
For younger bees however, it seems their sleeping pattern is slightly shortened and follows less of a structured day and night rhythm. Once foragers wake in the morning they tend to remain active until sunset, however, the younger bees, just like all those lazy teenagers we know so well, only wake for several hours at a time before dozing off again.
It is important for bees to get sleep, like all animals as a tired bee can’t communicate properly when giving other bees directions to a food source. It also affects that ability to return to the hive after visiting new flower patches as sleep is vital for retaining information.