START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
4,426,317 people care about Environment & Wildlife

Elderly Bees Discovered The Fountain Of Youth

Elderly Bees Discovered The Fountain Of Youth

Scientists at Arizona State University recently discovered that when mature members of a hive assume the duties of younger bees, namely staying home and looking after the babies, they’re able to stave off the physical and mental effects of aging. Older bees that leave the nest to gather food begin aging very quickly and demonstrate diminished mental acuity.

To observe this phenomenon, scientists first had to “trick” older bees in to resuming chores that they’d long since outgrown. So, they removed all the young nurse bees from a certain hive, giving the older bees a difficult choice to make: abandon the babies or starve. Interestingly, a portion of the older bees elected to stay at the hive, while others went out to forage.

“We knew from previous research that when bees stay in the nest and take care of larvae — the bee babies — they remain mentally competent for as long as we observe them,” said Gro Amdam, an associate professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences. “However, after a period of nursing, bees fly out gathering food and begin aging very quickly. After just two weeks, foraging bees have worn wings, hairless bodies, and more importantly, lose brain function — basically measured as the ability to learn new things. We wanted to find out if there was plasticity in this aging pattern so we asked the question, ‘What would happen if we asked the foraging bees to take care of larval babies again?”

The team found that when required to take over nursing duties rather than hunt for food, the impaired bees started to recover. In fact, after 10 days, about 50 percent of the older bees caring for the nest and larvae had significantly improved their ability to learn new things. Upon closer examination, it was found these improved bees had actually experienced chemical changes in their brain.

They found Prx6, a protein also found in humans that can help protect against dementia — including diseases such as Alzheimer’s — and they discovered a second and documented “chaperone” protein that protects other proteins from being damaged when brain or other tissues are exposed to cell-level stress.

According to Amdam, this discovery could have a profound effect on the way illness and disease is treated in aging humans. “Maybe social interventions – changing how you deal with your surroundings – is something we can do today to help our brains stay younger,” said Amdam. “Since the proteins being researched in people are the same proteins bees have, these proteins may be able to spontaneously respond to specific social experiences.”

Related Reading:

Parasite Drives Honey Bees To Zombie Flight?

Alzheimer’s, Dementia Costs Top $604 Billion

Study Links Bee Deaths To Corn Insecticide

Read more: , , , ,

Image via Thinkstock

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
10:28PM PST on Dec 31, 2012

Very interesting, thank you.

10:27PM PST on Dec 31, 2012

Very interesting, thank you.

3:25PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012


10:49PM PDT on Jul 15, 2012

If we would just look at nature, and see how incredible it is, and then take lessons on how to heal ourselves.

1:08PM PDT on Jul 15, 2012

Ron B--too funny! tried to send a star but I couldn't again this week! LOL

I think it's more about being around all that wonderful healing stuff in the honey for the bees, and more about doing what nurtures our souls for humans....

12:30PM PDT on Jul 13, 2012

3:59AM PDT on Jul 13, 2012

Fascinating - just goes to show how we know nothing about our planet

7:36PM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men. ---St. Francis of Assisi

1:13PM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

So interesting! Thank you for posting

9:20AM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

Wow, cool. Thanks for posting.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

meet our writers

Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
ads keep care2 free

more from causes

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!