Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 86, Issue 9, pp 438–440

Heat Shielding: A Novel Method of Colonial Thermoregulation in Honey Bees

  • Philip T. Starks
  • David C. Gilley
Short Communications

DOI: 10.1007/s001140050648

Cite this article as:
Starks, P. & Gilley, D. Naturwissenschaften (1999) 86: 438. doi:10.1007/s001140050648

Abstract

 Honey bees, Apis mellifera, maintain constant colony temperatures throughout the year. Honey bees fan their wings to cool the colony, and often spread fluid in conjunction with this behavior to induce evaporative cooling. We present an additional, previously undescribed mechanism used by the honey bee to maintain constant colony temperature in response to localized temperature increases. Worker bees shield the comb from external heat sources by positioning themselves on hot interior regions of the hive's walls. Although honey comb and brood comb were both shielded, the temperature-sensitive brood received a greater number of heat shielders and was thus better protected from overheating. Heat shielding appears to be a context-dependent adaptive behavior performed by worker bees who would previously have been considered "unemployed."

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip T. Starks
    • 1
  • David C. Gilley
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA, 14853-2702US