, Volume 156, Issue 4, pp 557-562

Thermoregulatory physiology of the carpenter bee,Xylocopa varipuncta

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The carpenter beesXylocopa varipuncta maintain thoracic temperatures of 33.0°C to 46.5°C during continuous free flight from 12°C to 40°C. Since the thoracic temperature excess is not constant (decreasing from 24°C at low air temperatures to 6°C at high) the bees are thermoregulating. We document physiological transfer of relatively large amounts of heat to the abdomen and to the head during pre-flight warm-up and during artificial thoracic heating. Most of the temperature increase of the head is due to passive conduction, while that of the abdomen is due to active physiological heat transfer despite a series of convolutions of the aorta in the petiole that anatomically conform to a counter-current heat exchanger. Although the thermoregulatory mechanisms during flight are far from clarified, our data suggest that thermoregulation involves a strong reliance on active convective cooling through increased flight speed.