Impact of Food Availability, Pathogen Exposure, and Genetic Diversity on Thermoregulation in Honey Bees (Apis mellifera)
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Accurate thermoregulation in honey bees is crucial for colony survival. Multiple factors influence how colonies manage in-hive temperature, including genetic diversity. We explored the influence of genetic diversity on thermoregulatory behavior under three conditions: natural foraging, supplemental feeding, and exposure to the fungal pathogen shown to induce a social fever in honey bees. Our data suggest that (1) the degree of genetic diversity expected under normal conditions is not predictive of thermoregulatory stability, (2) the social fever response of honey bees is not a simple stimulus–response mechanism but appears to be influenced by ambient temperature conditions, and (3) a temperature-based circadian rhythm emerges under high nectar flow conditions. Taken together, these data suggest that a richer, context-dependent thermoregulatory system exists in honey bees than previously understood.