Individual Acclimatization of Apis mellifera L. to the Thermal Homeostasis of the Colony

Marcos Venâncio Lima, Leonardo Augusto Fonseca Pascoal, Edilson Paes Saraiva, Kilmer Oliveira Soares, João Paulo Araújo Fernandes de Queiroz, Adriana Evangelista-Rodrigues


Bees play an important role in maintaining biodiversity by promoting the pollination of numerous plant species. Recent global climate changes are affecting the average air temperature, thereby altering the biological processes of many species. The objective of this study was to evaluate the adaptation of Apis mellifera L. bees to temperature increases and their responses to thermal homeostasis in the colony. Research was performed at the Federal University of Paraíba Laboratory of Bees using three treatments: Control, 33 °C and 40 °C. For the latter two treatments, colonies were kept in a 24 m² climate chamber with an opening at the hive entrance, giving the bees access to the outside environment. The following parameters were evaluated: difference between internal and external hive temperature, thorax surface temperature and total protein concentration in the hemolymph. Internal colony temperature varied according to the external hive temperature. Nurse bees that care for larvae exhibited higher heat production, expressed as thorax surface temperature. Total protein content in the hemolymph was highest in the 40 °C treatment and decreased with ambient temperature. External hive temperature influences internal hive temperature, and nurse bees have higher capacities for thermogenesis.


behavior; hemolymph; total protein; thermogenesis; thermoregulation

Full Text:



Adade, C.M. & Cruz-Landim, C. (2004). Diferenciação e envelhecimento do músculo do vôo em operárias de Scaptotrigona postica Latreille (Hymenoptera, Apidae). Revista Brasileira de Zoologia, 21: 379-384.

Alvares, C.A., Stape, J.L., Sentelhas, P.C., de Moraes, G., Leonardo, J. & Sparovek, G. (2013). Köppen’s climate classification map for Brazil. Meteorologische Zeitschrift, 22: 711-728. doi: 10.1127/0941-2948/2013/0507

Amdam, G.V. & Omholt, S.W. (2002). The regulatory anatomy of honeybee lifespan. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 216: 209-228. doi:10.1006/jtbi.2002.2545

Arrese, E.L. & Soulages, J.L. (2010). Insect fat body: energy, metabolism, and regulation. Annual Review of Entomology, 55: 207-225. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ento-112408-085356

Bordier, C., Suchail, S., Pioz, M., Devaud, J. M., Collet, C., Charreton, M., Le Conte, Y. & Alaux, C. (2017). Stress response in honeybees is associated with changes in task-related physiology and energetic metabolism. Journal of Insect Physiology, 98: 47-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2016.11.013

Bradford, M.M. (1976). A rapid and sensitive method for the quantitation of microgram quantities of protein utilizing the principle of protein-dye binding. Analytical Biochemistry, 72: 248-254.doi: 10.1016/0003-2697(76)90527-3

Bujok, B., Kleinhenz, M., Fuchs, S., & Tautz, J. (2002). Hot spots in the bee hive. Naturwissenschaften, 89: 299-301. doi: 10.1007/s00114-002-0338-7

Crailsheim, K., Schneider, L.H.W., Hrassnigg, N. & Bühlmann, G. (1992). Pollen consumption and utilization in worker honey bees (Apis mellifera carnica): Dependence on individual age and function. Journal of Insect Physiology, 38: 409-419. doi: 10.1016/0022-1910(92)90117-V

Cremonez, T.M., De Jong, D. & Bitondi, M.M.G. (1998). Quantification of hemolymph proteins as a fast method for testing protein diets for honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Journal of Economic Entomology, 91: 1284-1289. doi: 10.10 93/jee/91.6.1284

Dunham, W.E. (1929). The influence of external temperature on the hive temperature during the summer. Journal of Economic Entomology, 22: 798-801. doi: 10.1093/jee/22.5.798

Fahrenholz, L., Lamprecht, I. & Schricker, B. (1989). Thermal investigations of a honey bee colony: thermoregulation of the hive during summer and winter and heat production of members of different bee castes. Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 159: 551-560.

Giannini, T.C., Cordeiro, G.D., Freitas, B.M., Saraiva, A.M. & Imperatriz-Fonseca, V.L. (2015). The dependence of crops for pollinators and the economic value of pollination in Brazil. Journal of Economic Entomology, 108: 849-857. doi: 10.1093/jee/tov093

Giannini, T.C., Costa, W.F., Cordeiro, G.D., Imperatriz-Fonseca, V.L., Saraiva, A.M., Biesmeijer, J. & Garibaldi, L.A. (2017). Projected climate change threatens pollinators and crop production in Brazil. PLoS ONE, 12: e0182274. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0182274

Graham, S., Myerscough, M.R., Jones, J.C. & Oldroyd, B. P. (2006). Modelling the role of intracolonial genetic diversity on regulation of brood temperature in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies. Insectes Sociaux, 53: 226-232. doi: 10.1007/s00040-005-0862-5

Groh, C., Tautz, J. & Rössler, W. (2004). Synaptic organization in the adult honey bee brain is influenced by brood-temperature control during pupal development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101: 4268-4273. doi: 10.1073/pnas.04 00773101

Heinrich, B. (1979). Thermoregulation of African and European honeybees during foraging, attack, and hive exits and returns. Journal of Experimental Biology, 80: 217-229.

Heinrich, B. (1981). The regulation of temperature in the honeybee swarm. Scientific American, 244: 146-161.

Heinrich, B. (1993). The hot-blooded insects. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Heinrich, B. (1996). How the honey bee regulates its body temperature. Bee World, 77: 130-137. doi: 10.1080/00057 72X.1996.11099304

Heinrich, B. & Esch, H. (1994). Thermoregulation in bees. American Scientist, 82: 164-170.

Hess, W.R. (1926). Die temperatur regulierungim Bienenvolk. Zeitschrift für vergleichende Physiologie, 4: 465-487. doi: 10.10 07/BF00340746

Himmer, A. (1932). Die temperatur verhältnisse bei den sozialen hymenopteren. Biological Reviews, 7: 224-253. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-185X.1962.tb01042.x

Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia – INMET (2018). Normais Climatológicas do Brasil 1981-2010. portal/index.php?r=clima/normaisclimatologicas. (accessed date: 19 July 2018)

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. T.F. Stocker et al. (Eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jones, J.C., Helliwell, P., Beekman, M., Maleszka, R. & Oldroyd, B.P. (2005). The effects of rearing temperature on developmental stability and learning and memory in the honey bee, Apis mellifera. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 191: 1121-1129. doi: 10.1007/s00359-005-0035-z

Jones, J.C., Myerscough, M.R., Graham, S. & Oldroyd, B.P. (2004). Honey bee nest thermoregulation: diversity promotes stability. Science, 305: 402-404. doi: 10.1126/science.1096340

Jones, J.C., Nanork, P. & Oldroyd, B.P. (2007). The role of genetic diversity in nest cooling in a wild honey bee, Apis florea. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 193: 159-165. doi: 10.1007/s00359-006-0176-8

Jones, J.C. & Oldroyd, B.P. (2007). Nest thermoregulation in social insects. Advances in Insect Physiology, 33: 154-185. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2806(06)33003-2

Klein, A-M., Vaissière, B., Cane, J.H., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Cunningham, S.A., Kremen, C. & Tscharntke, T. (2007). Importance of pollinators in changing landscapes for world crops. Proceedings of the Royal Society, 274: 303-313. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2006.3721

Kleinhenz, M., Bujok, B., Fuchs, S. & Tautz, J. (2003). Hot bees in empty broodnest cells: heating from within. Journal of Experimental Biology, 206: 4217-4231. doi: 10.1242/jeb.00680

Kovac, H., Stabentheiner, A. & Schmaranzer, S. (2010). Thermoregulation of water foraging honeybees – Balancing of endothermic activity with radiative heat gain and functional requirements. Journal of Insect Physiology, 56: 1834-1845. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2010.08.002

Kovac, H. & Stabentheiner, A. (2011). Thermoregulation of foraging honeybees on flowering plants: seasonal variability and influence of radiative heat gain. Ecological Entomology, 36: 686-699.

Novais, S.M., Nunes, C.A., Santos, N.B., DAmico, A.R., Fernandes, G.W., Quesada, M., Braga, R.F. & Neves, A.C.O. (2016). Effects of a possible pollinator crisis on food crop production in Brazil. PloS ONE, 11: e0167292. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0167292

Rocha, C.R., Ramos, P.R.R. & Funari, S.R.C. (2003).Eletroferograma de proteínas de hemolinfa de abelhas Apis mellifera L. submetidas à produção de geléia real. Boletim de Indústria Animal, 60: 147-153.

Rosenkranz, P., Tewarson, N.C. & Singh, A. (1992). Regulation der Bruttemperatur beivier Apis-Arten in Indien. Blaubeuren: IUSSI, p. 63.

Roubik, D.W. (2012). Ecology and Social Organization of Bees. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Ltda. doi: 10.1002/ 9780470015902.a0023596

Seeley, T.D., Kleinhenz, M., Bujok, B. & Tautz, J. (2003). Thorough warm-up before take-off in honey bee swarms. Naturwissenschaften, 90: 256-260. doi: 10.1007/s00114-003-0425-4

Seeley, T.D. (2006). Ecologia da abelha: um estudo de adaptação na vida social. Porto Alegre: Paixão Editores Ltda., 256p.

Southwick, E.E. & Heldmaier, G. (1987). Temperature control in honey bee colonies. Bioscience, 37: 395-399.

Southwick, E.E. & Moritz, R.F. (1987). Social control of air ventilation in colonies of honey bees, Apis mellifera. Journal of Insect Physiology, 33: 623-626.

Stabentheiner, A., Pressl, H., Papst, T., Hrassnigg, N. & Crailsheim, K. (2003). Endothermic heat production in honeybee winter clusters. Journal of Experimental Biology, 206: 353-358. doi: 10.1242/jeb.00082

Stabentheiner, A., Kovac, H., Hetz, S.K., Käfer, H. & Stabentheiner, G. (2012). Assessing honeybee and wasp thermoregulation and energetics – New insights by combination of flow-through respirometry with infrared thermography. Thermochimica Acta, 534: 77-86. doi: 10.10 16/j.tca.2012.02.006

Starks, P.T. & Gilley, D.C. (1999). Heat shielding: a novel method of colonial thermoregulation in honey bees. Naturwissenschaften, 86: 438-440.

Statistical Analysis System – SAS (1999). User’s guide, version 8. Cary: SAS Institute.

Southwick, E.E. & Heldmaier, G. (1987). Temperature control in honey bee colonies. Bioscience, 37: 395-399.

Tautz, D., Arctander, P., Minelli, A., Thomas, R.H. & Vogler, A.P. (2003). A plea for DNA taxonomy. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 18: 70-74. doi: 10.1016/S0169-5347(02)00041-1

Willmer, P.G. & Stone, G.N. (2004). Behavioral, ecological, and physiological determinants of the activity patterns of bees. Advances in the Study of Behavior, 34: 347-466.

Winston, M.L. (2003). A biologia da abelha. Porto Alegre: Magister, 276p.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

JCR Impact Factor 2018: 0.604