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ARTICLE: How Honey Bees Keep Their Hives Warm Given That They are Cold Blooded

“Today I found out how Honey bees keep their hives warm even though they are cold blooded.

Up until only a few years ago, it was thought by many scientists that the Honey bee hives were kept warm by pupae in the brood and that the bees would often congregate there to warm themselves up from the pupae.  Recently, this was found not to be the case when a new Honey bee job was discovered, that of “heater bees”.  Bees of almost all ages can perform this function by either vibrating their abdomens or they can also decouple their wings from their muscles, allowing them to vigorously use these muscles without actually moving their wings. This can heat their bodies up to about 111° Fahrenheit (44° C), which is about 16° F (9° C) hotter than their normal body temperature.

Another new discovery that went with this was why queen bees leave certain cells in the brood empty.  It was previously thought this was an undesirable quality of a queen, so queens that left less empty cells were sought out.  In fact, these empty cells are essential to a healthy hive.  Before the discovery of heater bees using infrared technology, it was thought the bees that crawled in these empty cells were cleaning them out.  What’s actually happening is that the heater bees will crawl inside these cells to keep the surrounding cells at the proper temperature, able to warm a maximum of about 70 or so cells per heater bee.

The heater bees can also directly regulating temperature in individual cells by standing over and pressing their thorax against an individual cell, something which scientists used to think was just the bees resting.  In reality, they are working their wing muscles extremely hard to heat up the cell with their heightened body temperature…”

[read the full article on todayifoundout.com]

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