Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 156, Issue 1, pp 143–149

Allometric relations, metabolism and heart conductance in clusters of honey bees at cool temperatures

  • Edward E. Southwick

DOI: 10.1007/BF00692937

Cite this article as:
Southwick, E.E. J Comp Physiol B (1985) 156: 143. doi:10.1007/BF00692937


Clusters of honey bees,Apis mellifera carnica, showed a clear dependence of oxygen consumption and heat conductance on bee cluster mass (between 5 g and 1.2 kg) when exposed to a cold temperature (2°C) overnight. As the bee cluster mass was increased, total cluster metabolism increased. Mass-specific oxygen consumption,\(\dot V_{O_2 } \), decreased with increasing mass following the relation:\(\dot V_{O_2 } \) = 22.69BW−0.479 (Fig. 1). Larger clusters of bees had lower heat conductance (i.e., better insulation) than the smaller groups (Fig. 4). The mechanisms of adaptation and adjustment to cold temperature in bee clusters are discussed and compared with those of mammals and birds.



ambient temperature in environmental cabinet


air temperature inside bee chamber but outside bees


core temperature of bee cluster


body temperature

\(\dot V_{O_2 } \)

oxygen consumption


heat conductance


body mass or cluster mass


metabolic rate

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward E. Southwick
    • 1
  1. 1.Fachbereich BiologieJ.W. Goethe-Universität, Institut für Bienenkunde (Polytechnische Gesellschaft), Frankfurt/MOberurselGermany
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesState University of New YorkBrockportUSA