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How honey bees stay cool
Date:7/23/2014

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.


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Contact: Alex Reid
alexander.reid@tufts.edu
617-627-4173
Tufts University
Source:Eurekalert  

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