Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 158, Issue 6, pp 711–718 | Cite as

Flight of the honey bee

I. Thorax surface temperature and thermoregulation during tethered flight
  • R. Jungmann
  • U. Rothe
  • W. Nachtigall


In round-about experiments (rate of success 40%) 80% of the bees began flying after thorax surface temperature had increased toTts=34.1±1.8°C (warming). The starting temperature difference ΔTts(=TtsTa)=6.7±3.06 °C at an ambient temperature of 18.0°C≤Ta≤29.6°C (‘normal starts’). The latter decreased to 2.80±0.83°C after 2–5 min and remained constant during 85% of the flight time (42.5±29.2 min) (Fig. 1A). 20% of the bees began flying at ΔTts=1.6±0.3°C and continued to warm up during the first third of their flight (‘emergency starts’) (Fig. 1 B).

During slowTa changes ΔTts remained constant. Immediately after a flight stop, temperature increased by 6.2–18.7% during the following 30–60 s (‘out effect’) (Fig. 1C). Dangling the legs resulted in a pronounced temperature loss ofTts≤1°C (Fig. 1 D).

ΔTts was negatively correlated withTa at the start (ΔTts (°C)=88.32e−0.0926 Ta(°C); Fig. 2A), but not correlated toTa during the flight at 20.5°C≤Ta≤26.7°C andv=0.72 ms−1 (Fig. 2B). Individual variation was high (Fig. 2C). Flight duration was not correlated toTa (Fig. 2D).

During wind tunnel flights (rate of success 16–38%) ΔTts reached a steady value after 2–5 min, remained steady during two thirds of the flight, and was not dependent onTa (Fig. 3C). The mean value of ΔTts was 2.16±0.30°C at 19°C≤Ta≤34°C andv=1.8 ms−1.

Heating constants in still air before short walks, longer walks (t≥4 min) and round-about flights were 2.28±0.86 min−1, 3.55±1.33 min−1 and 3.64±0.73 min−1, respectively, but only 1.04±0.26 min−1 under wind tunnel conditions (resting, but exposed to a wind speed of 1.8 m s−1). Cooling constants after flight stop averaged 0.87±0.24 min−1 in still air, 2.8±0.2 min−1 in animals rotated at 0.72 m s−1, and 1.32±0.22 min−1 in animals exposed to a wind speed of 1.8 m s−1. No statistical difference in heating and cooling constants were found in the temperature range 18°C≤Ta≤34°C.

A significant positive correlation was found between ΔTts and\(\dot V_{O_2 }\) in resting bees exposed to a wind speed of 1.8 m s−1 (Fig. 4A-C).


Wind Speed Surface Temperature Ambient Temperature Human Physiology Temperature Difference 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Jungmann
    • 1
  • U. Rothe
    • 1
  • W. Nachtigall
    • 1
  1. 1.Arbeitsgruppe Nachtigall, Zoologisches InstitutUniversität des SaarlandesSaarbrückenGermany

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