Hot spots in the bee hive

Naturwissenschaften. 2002 Jul;89(7):299-301. doi: 10.1007/s00114-002-0338-7.


Honeybee colonies (Apis mellifera) maintain temperatures of 35-36 degrees C in their brood nest because the brood needs high and constant temperature conditions for optimal development. We show that incubation of the brood at the level of individual honeybees is done by worker bees performing a particular and not yet specified behaviour: such bees raise the brood temperature by pressing their warm thoraces firmly onto caps under which the pupae develop. The bees stay motionless in a characteristic posture and have significantly higher thoracic temperatures than bees not assuming this posture in the brood area. The surface of the brood caps against which warm bees had pressed their thorax were up to 3.2 degrees C warmer than the surrounding area, confirming that effective thermal transfer had taken place.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / physiology*
  • Female
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Social Behavior*
  • Temperature