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Queen Mary University follows a bee's working day

PUBLISHED: 13:00 02 July 2010 | UPDATED: 16:13 05 October 2010

Queen Mary researchers tagged the bees to track their movements

Queen Mary researchers tagged the bees to track their movements

BEES still take a well-deserved break from their work during 24 hours of sunshine, according to East End researchers. A team from Queen Mary University of London in Mile End found the insects went foraging during the day and clocked off before midnight

BEES still take a well-deserved break from their work during 24 hours of sunshine, according to East End researchers.

A team from Queen Mary University of London in Mile End found the insects went foraging during the day and clocked off before midnight, despite the constant sunshine.

Ralph Stelzer and Lars Chittka from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences made the discovery in north Finland where they tagged the individual bumblebees with radio-frequency (RFID) chips and tracked their movements over several weeks.

They studied colonies of bees that were native to Finland, as well as bee colonies they imported into the country for the purpose of the research.

And the team discovered that the bees did not take advantage of the constant sunshine by collecting as much flower nectar as possible and growing the size of their colony but instead retired to their nests at night, suggesting they have a way of telling the time without relying on the obvious change between day and night.

Professor Chittka said: "This is unusual. Other animals, such as reindeer and other social insects, live part of their lives in constant daylight and adapt their circadian rhythm - - body clock - to those conditions.

"We expected bumblebees to do the same.

"Our discovery suggests the insects may be sensitive to light intensity and quality or subtle changes in temperature."

Researchers concluded that the bees could be returning to their nests to warm their brood, with the sleep helping them to remember the information they gained from the day's foraging.

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