Shhh . . . bees sleeping
Last week, I told Grenville that we had lots of bee sleepovers in the Frog & PenguINN wildflower gardens. He was skeptical, asking “where are their blankets, pillows or teddy bears?” So he blew on one to see if it moved – it did, and so did Grenville!
Ever wonder where bees sleep at night?
Usually, the bumblebees are males. Male bumble bees do not have stingers, so you can take a closer look. A neighbor of ours boasts that he’s always petting them.
You’d know, if you’ve ever looked in your gardens late in the day or early in the morning and seen lots of inactive bumblebees on the flowers. (We’ve only seen bumblebees sleeping, not honeybees.)
Bumblebee nests are often very small so the males don’t have a place to nest. Many find a flower to rest on. Bees hold on with either their legs or their mandibles and tuck in for the night. Many sleep in flowers that close up for the night, which helps keep them safe from predators. Once the day starts warming up, the male bees begin stirring and either continue pollination or search for females to mate with.
If a bumblebee is NOT sleeping,how do you know it’s upset? If the bee is on a flower or other surface and feels threatened, it will raise one of its middle legs. This is a sign that you are too close and should back off a bit.
Research has showed that bees at rest exhibit some of the same characteristics as humans in a sleep period: they don't move around, they don't react to stimuli very readily, their muscles relax, and their body temperature drops. So, while buzzing in the hive is probably not snoring, researchers concluded that bees DO sleep. (Reference: Southwick, E. E. "Bee sleep". American Bee Journal 131:165-166, 1991)