Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 115–118

Seasonal and task-related variation in free running activity rhythms in honey bees (Apis mellifera)

Research article

DOI: 10.1007/s00040-005-0844-7

Cite this article as:
Bloch, G., Shemesh, Y. & Robinson, G.E. Insect. Soc. (2006) 53: 115. doi:10.1007/s00040-005-0844-7


We measured seasonal variation in the locomotor behavior of newly emerged adult honey bee workers in the laboratory. Analyses of bees from 12 colonies, 7 of which were tested once and 5 tested more than once, revealed seasonal changes in the free-running period (FRP) of the rhythm for locomotor behavior, with an increase from spring to summer. At the same time there was a decrease in the age at onset of circadian rhythmicity. There were no seasonal changes in overall levels of locomotor activity. Temperature and photoperiod, the only factors known to mediate plasticity in the insect clock, cannot account for the observed seasonal variation because bees were maintained under constant conditions. In a second experiment we found no differences in the FRP of nurses and foragers obtained from colonies maintained in a 12 h light: 12 h dark illumination regime. These findings suggest that exposure to unknown cues during preadult stages may affect the circadian behavior of adult bees.


Honey beescircadian rhythmfree running perioddevelopmental plasticitydivision of labor

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Evolution, Systematics, and Ecology, The Alexander Silberman Institute of Life SciencesThe Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Entomology and Neuroscience ProgramUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA