Achievement of Thermal Stability by Varying Metabolic Heat Production in Flying Honeybees

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Science  04 Oct 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5284, pp. 88-90
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5284.88


Thermoregulation of the thorax allows endothermic insects to achieve power outputs during flight that are among the highest in the animal kingdom. Flying endothermic insects, including the honeybee Apis mellifera, are believed to thermoregulate almost exclusively by varying heat loss. Here it is shown that a rise in air temperature from 20° to 40°C causes large decreases in metabolic heat production and wing-beat frequency in honeybees during hovering, agitated, or loaded flight. Thus, variation in heat production may be the primary mechanism for achieving thermal stability in flying honeybees, and this mechanism may occur commonly in endothermic insects.

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