Social synchronization of circadian rhythms with a focus on honeybees

Oliver Siehler, Shuo Wang, Guy Bloch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Many animals benefit from synchronizing their daily activities with conspecifics. In this hybrid paper, we first review recent literature supporting and extending earlier evidence for a lack of clear relationship between the level of sociality and social entrainment of circadian rhythms. Social entrainment is specifically potent in social animals that live in constant environments in which some or all individuals do not experience the ambient day-night cycles. We next focus on highly social honeybees in which there is good evidence that social cues entrain the circadian clocks of nest bees and can override the influence of conflicting light-dark cycles. The current understanding of social synchronization in honeybees is consistent with self-organization models in which surrogates of forager activity, such as substrate-borne vibrations and colony volatiles, entrain the circadian clocks of bees dwelling in the dark cavity of the nest. Finally, we present original findings showing that social synchronization is effective even in an array of individually caged callow bees placed on the same substrate and is improved for bees in connected cages. These findings reveal remarkable sensitivity to social time-giving cues and show that bees with attenuated rhythms (weak oscillators) can nevertheless be socially synchronized to a common phase of activity. This article is part of the theme issue 'Synchrony and rhythm interaction: from the brain to behavioural ecology'.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number20200342
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1835
StatePublished - 11 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s).


  • circadian rhythms
  • coupled oscillators
  • honeybees
  • self-organization
  • social entrainment
  • social insects


Dive into the research topics of 'Social synchronization of circadian rhythms with a focus on honeybees'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this