Thermoregulation of dancing bees: thoracic temperature of pollen and nectar foragers in relation to profitability of foraging and colony need

J Insect Physiol. 2001 Apr;47(4-5):385-92. doi: 10.1016/s0022-1910(00)00132-3.

Abstract

The thorax surface temperature of dancing honeybees (Apis mellifera carnica) recruiting nestmates to natural sources of nectar and pollen around Graz (Austria) was measured by real-time infrared thermography without touching them or disturbing social interactions. Thorax temperature during dancing was quite variable (31.4-43 degrees C). In the course of a foraging season it varied considerably and was always lower than in bees foraging from a highly profitable food source (2 molar sucrose 120 m from the hive). It averaged 38.0 degrees C (SD=2.24, n=224 dances) in the nectar foragers and 37.4 degrees C (SD=1.64, n=171) in the pollen foragers, resembling that of dancers foraging 0.5 molar sucrose from feeders with unlimited flow. Hive air temperature accounted only for about 3-8% of total variation. Foraging distance modulated dancing temperature in a way that, according to the decrease of the profitability of foraging with distance, maximum temperatures decreased and, in accordance with the increase of the dancing threshold with distance, minumum temperatures increased with distance, this way providing new support for the hypothesis that the dancing temperature is modulated by the profitability of foraging and the dancing and foraging motivation of the bees. Dancing temperature of both nectar and pollen dancers correlated with several parameters of the hive status, increasing with the amount of brood and decreasing with the amount of honey and pollen. These correlations are discussed with respect to literature reports on a colony's need for pollen and nectar, in particular the effect of brood and the amount of pollen on pollen foraging, and the effect of honey stores and demand for nectar on nectar foraging.