Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How honey bees stay cool

24.07.2014

Honey bees, especially the young, are highly sensitive to temperature and to protect developing bees, adults work together to maintain temperatures within a narrow range.

Recently published research led by Philip T. Starks, a biologist at Tufts University's School of Arts and Sciences, is the first to show that worker bees dissipate excess heat within a hive in process similar to how humans and other mammals cool themselves through their blood vessels and skin.


The top panel depicts the experimental hive. It shows that the high heat area, colored red, grew within three minutes of cooling and disappeared within nine minutes. The bottom panel shows how the control panel gradually dissipated heat. There, heat persisted after 18 minutes of cooling.

Credit: Rachael E. Bonoan, Tufts University

"This study shows how workers effectively dissipate the heat absorbed via heat-shielding, a mechanism used to thwart localized heat stressors," says Starks. The research is published in the June 10 edition of the journal Naturwissenschaften, which appeared online April 24.

This discovery also supports the theoretical construct of the bee hive as a superorganism—an entity in which its many members carry out specialized and vital functions to keep the whole functioning as a unit.

Young bees develop within wax cells. For healthy development, the youngsters must be maintained between 32 degrees Celsius, or 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and 35 degrees Celsius, or 95 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, adults can withstand temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius, or 122 degrees Fahrenheit

Previous research has shown that workers bees, among other duties, control the thermostat essential to the hive's survival.

When temperatures dip, worker bees create heat by contracting their thoracic muscles, similar to shivering in mammals. To protect the vulnerable brood when it's hot, workers fan the comb, spread fluid to induce evaporative cooling, or – when the heat stress is localized - absorb heat by pressing themselves against the brood nest wall (a behavior known as heat-shielding).

But until the Tufts study, scientists did not know how the bees got rid of the heat after they had absorbed it.

Starks' team included doctoral student Rachael E. Bonoan, former undergraduate student Rhyan R. Goldman, and Peter Y. Wong, a research associate professor in the department of mechanical engineering in the School of Engineering at Tufts. Bonoan and Goldman collected data on seven active honeybee hives that were framed by clear Plexiglas walls.

Each colony numbered 1,000 to 2,500 adult bees. An eighth hive, empty of bees, was used as a control. Using a theater light, the researchers raised the internal temperature of all eight hives for 15 minutes. Temperature probes recorded internal temperature throughout the heating portion of the experiment.

As anticipated, the worker bees pressed their bodies against the heated surfaces near the brood. Like insect sponges, they absorbed the heat, which lowered temperatures. After 15 minutes, a time brief enough to prevent serious harm to the bees, the theater light was turned off.

Immediately following, heat movement within the hive and external hive temperatures were tracked via thermal imaging. Within 10 minutes of cooling, temperatures in the active hives were down to safe levels. Meanwhile, the control hive remained at 40 degrees Celsius. "Since the control hive did not have bees, the differences in temperature were likely caused by worker behavior," Starks says.

Using thermal imaging, the scientists observed that temperatures increased peripheral to the heated regions of the hive as the brood nest began to cool. The thermal images clearly showed that the bees had physically moved the absorbed heat in their bodies to previously cooler areas of the hive. "Moving heat from hot to cool areas is reminiscent of the bioheat transfer via the cardiovascular system of mammals," says Starks.

###

This research was supported by the Tufts University Biology Department and the Tufts University National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Program (DBI 263030).

Bonoan RE, Goldman RR, Wong PY and Starks PT. 2014. Vasculature of the Hive: heat dissipation in the honey bee (Apis mellifera) hive. Naturwissenschaften. 101: 459-465

Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.

Alex Reid | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.tufts.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New technology helps ID aggressive early breast cancer
01.07.2016 | University of Michigan Health System

nachricht In times of great famine, microalgae digest themselves
01.07.2016 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mainz-based physicists find missing link between glass formation and crystallization

Densified regions with drastically reduced internal motion either act as crystal precursors or cluster and frustrate all further dynamics

Glasses are neither fluids nor crystals. They are amorphous solids and one of the big puzzles in condensed matter physics. For decades, the question of how...

Im Focus: Thousands on one chip: New Method to study Proteins

Since the completion of the human genome an important goal has been to elucidate the function of the now known proteins: a new molecular method enables the investigation of the function for thousands of proteins in parallel. Applying this new method, an international team of researchers with leading participation of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) was able to identify hundreds of previously unknown interactions among proteins.

The human genome and those of most common crops have been decoded for many years. Soon it will be possible to sequence your personal genome for less than 1000...

Im Focus: Optical lenses, hardly larger than a human hair

3D printing enables the smalles complex micro-objectives

3D printing revolutionized the manufacturing of complex shapes in the last few years. Using additive depositing of materials, where individual dots or lines...

Im Focus: Flexible OLED applications arrive

R2D2, a joint project to analyze and development high-TRL processes and technologies for manufacture of flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been successfully completed.

In contrast to point light sources like LEDs made of inorganic semiconductor crystals, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are light-emitting surfaces. Their...

Im Focus: Unexpected flexibility found in odorant molecules

High resolution rotational spectroscopy reveals an unprecedented number of conformations of an odorant molecule – a new world record!

In a recent publication in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Quantum technologies to revolutionise 21st century - Nobel Laureates discuss at Lindau

30.06.2016 | Event News

International Conference ‘GEO BON’ Wants to Close Knowledge Gaps in Global Biodiversity

28.06.2016 | Event News

ERES 2016: The largest conference in the European real estate industry

09.06.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Mainz-based physicists find missing link between glass formation and crystallization

01.07.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists observe first signs of healing in the Antarctic ozone layer

01.07.2016 | Earth Sciences

MRI technique induces strong, enduring visual association

01.07.2016 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>