Much has been written about stress in recent times, as modern lives seem to become more hectic and fast-paced. Honey bees, too, can suffer as a result of stress, and scientists now believe that stressed-out bees can cause the collapse of their colonies.
The pressure is on young bees to grow up rapidly and get to work, foraging for the colony. Diseases, habitat loss, and factors that kill off older workers are all contributing to a shift that sees young bees pushed to begin foraging much earlier in their lives.
Researchers have found that younger bees forced into foraging sooner are far less successful at their task, completing less flights, and often dying during their first foraging ventures. Some hives simply cannot withstand the lower foraging success and higher mortality rates, and the combination can lead to total colony collapse.
Clint Perry of the Queen Mary University of London hopes the findings will help with the prevention of such collapses: “Our results suggest that tracking when bees begin to forage may be a good indicator of the overall health of a hive. Our work sheds light on the reasons behind colony collapse and could help in the search for ways of preventing it.”
Perry, C, Sovik, E, Myerscough, M, & Barron, A. (2015). Rapid behavioral maturation accelerates failure of stressed honey bee colonies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI:10.1073/pnas.1422089112
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