Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Making bees less busy: Social environment changes internal clocks

Date:
September 25, 2010
Source:
Society for Neuroscience
Summary:
Honey bees removed from their usual roles in the hive quickly and drastically changed their biological rhythms, according to a new study. The changes were evident in both the bees' behavior and in their internal clocks. These findings indicate that social environment has a significant effect on the physiology and behavior of animals.

Mesh cages were used to confine young bees to a comb without larvae. The three cages were connected with plastic tubes, which enabled the bees to move freely between the chambers. The cells surrounding the chambers actually contained the larvae.
Credit: Courtesy, with permission: Shemesh et al. The Journal of Neuroscience 2010.

Honey bees removed from their usual roles in the hive quickly and drastically changed their biological rhythms, according to a study in the Sept. 15 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The changes were evident in both the bees' behavior and in their internal clocks. These findings indicate that social environment has a significant effect on the physiology and behavior of animals. In people, disturbances to the biological clock are known to cause problems for shift workers and new parents and for contributing to mood disorders.

Circadian rhythm, the body's "internal clock," regulates daily functions. A few "clock genes" control many actions, including the time of sleeping, eating and drinking, temperature regulation, and hormone fluctuations. However, exactly how that clock is affected by -- and affects -- social interactions with other animals is unknown.

Senior author Guy Bloch, PhD, and his colleagues from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, chose to study bees in part because of their complex social environment. One role in bee society is the "nurse": bees that are busy at all times caring for larvae. This continuous activity is different from other bees and animals, whose levels rise and fall throughout the day.

Bloch and his team thought that changing the nurse bees' social environment might alter their activity levels, so they separated them from their larvae. The researchers found that the bees' cellular rhythms and behavior completely changed, matching a more typical circadian cycle.

"Our findings show that circadian rhythms of honey bees are altered by signals from the brood that are transferred by close or direct contact," Bloch said. "This flexibility in the bees' clock is striking, given that humans and most other animals studied cannot sustain long periods of around-the-clock activity without deterioration in performance and an increase in disease."

The results suggest that the bees' internal clocks were shaped by certain social cues. Jürgen Tautz, PhD, of the Julius-Maximilians Universität Würzburg in Germany, an expert in honey bee biology who was unaffiliated with the study, said it is a wonderful example of the tightly regulated interactions between genes and behavior in a bee colony. "The presence or absence of larvae switched the genes 'on' or 'off,' which guaranteed the adaptive behavior of the bees," Tautz said.

Because bees and mammals' circadian clocks are similarly organized, the question is whether the clocks of other animals also strongly depend on their social environments. The next step is to find just how social exchanges influence gene expressions. Further research into this question may have implications for individuals who suffer from disturbances in their behavioral, sleeping, and waking cycles. Research into how these rhythms may be altered and even stabilized might identify new treatment options.

The research was supported by the Israeli Science Foundation, the Israel-U.S. Binational Science Foundation, and the German Israel Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Neuroscience. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Y. Shemesh, A. Eban-Rothschild, M. Cohen, G. Bloch. Molecular Dynamics and Social Regulation of Context-Dependent Plasticity in the Circadian Clockwork of the Honey Bee. Journal of Neuroscience, 2010; 30 (37): 12517 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1490-10.2010

Cite This Page:

Society for Neuroscience. "Making bees less busy: Social environment changes internal clocks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100914171319.htm>.
Society for Neuroscience. (2010, September 25). Making bees less busy: Social environment changes internal clocks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100914171319.htm
Society for Neuroscience. "Making bees less busy: Social environment changes internal clocks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100914171319.htm (accessed September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The incentive is in keeping with a Russian superstition that it's good luck for a cat to be the first to cross the threshold of a new home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins