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Senior bees up all night caring for larvae

8:14pm, April 25, 2001

A bleary mom staggering into the nursery at 2 a.m. can tell her troubles to the


Foraging worker bees are the first insects known to have a social trigger

radically change their biological rhythm, report Guy Bloch and Gene Robinson of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. That trigger comes from a crisis in the nursery.

Newly hatched honeybee larvae need round-the-clock care, and they typically get it

from the youngest adults. Each caretaker fusses around the brood at all hours.

As the nursemaids age, they start venturing outside the hive. Eventually, they

switch to full-time foraging and adopt a circadian rhythm. Even when researchers

keep bees in constant darkness, the forager-age workers show a regular cycle of

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