Keeping a Cool Head: Honeybee Thermoregulation

Science  21 Sep 1979:
Vol. 205, Issue 4412, pp. 1269-1271
DOI: 10.1126/science.205.4412.1269


At high ambient temperatures, honeybees regulate head teriperature by evaporative cooling of regurgitated honeycrop contents. Thoracic temperature is secondarily stabilized as heat flows from thorax to head by means of passive conduction and physiological facilitation resulting from accelerated blood flow. The mechanism permits flight at the extraordinarily high ambient temperature of 46°C without overheating the head and thorax despite prodigious amounts of heat produced as a by-product of flight metabolism. In contrast, at low ambient temperatures, thoracic rather than head temperature is regulated; no liquid is regurgitated, and the head is heated passively by conduction both in flight and while stationary.