Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 90, Issue 6, pp 256–260

Thorough warm-up before take-off in honey bee swarms

  • Thomas D. Seeley
  • Marco Kleinhenz
  • Brigitte Bujok
  • Jürgen Tautz
Short Communication

DOI: 10.1007/s00114-003-0425-4

Cite this article as:
Seeley, T.D., Kleinhenz, M., Bujok, B. et al. Naturwissenschaften (2003) 90: 256. doi:10.1007/s00114-003-0425-4

Abstract

In a bivouacked swarm of honey bees, most individuals are quiescent while a small minority (the scouts) are active in choosing the swarm's future nest site. This study explores the way in which the members of a swarm warm their flight muscles for take-off when the swarm eventually decamps. An infrared camera was used to measure the thoracic (flight muscle) temperatures of individual bees on the surface of a swarm cluster. These are generally the coolest bees in a swarm. The warming of the surface-layer bees occurred mainly in the last 10 min before take-off. By the time a take-off began, 100% of the bees had their flight muscles heated to at least 35°C, which is sufficient to support rapid flight. Take-offs began only a few seconds after all the surface-layer bees had their flight muscles warmed to at least 35°C, but exactly how take-offs are triggered remains a mystery.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas D. Seeley
    • 1
  • Marco Kleinhenz
    • 2
  • Brigitte Bujok
    • 2
  • Jürgen Tautz
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Neurobiology and BehaviorCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Lehrstuhl für Verhaltensphysiologie und SoziobiologieBiozentrum der Universität WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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