Foraging profits and thoracic temperature of honey bees (Apis mellifera)

Keith D. Waddington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Body temperature and duration of foraging activities were affected by the concentration of sucrose solution imbibed. When experienced foragers of Apis mellifera arrived at a gravity feeder from the hive, thoracic temperature (TTH) was independent of sucrose concentration (X = 36.3 °C). While imbibing 40% and 60% (g solute per g of solution) solutions bees maintained TTH at approximately the same high level as upon arrival, but those imbibing 10%, 20%, and 30% solutions regulated TTH lower (X = 33.5 °C). All bees departed the feeder for the hive at the same TTH (X = 36.1 °C). Bees that imbibed 40% and 60% solutions sometimes immediately took flight after imbibition and averaged less than 15 s to takeoff. Time to takeoff was 2-3 times longer for bees that had imbibed 10% and 20% solutions because warmup preceded takeoff. The rate of energy expenditure at TTH=36.3°C (at 40% and 60% solutions) was 20% greater than that at 33.3°C (at 10%, 20%, and 30% solution). Bees that fed on the highly concentrated solutions regulated TTH so that rate of net energy gain was enhanced, but bees that fed on less concentrated solutions could have increased rate of net gain by maintaining a higher TTH which would have reduced time required for takeoff. The latter bees lowered rate of expenditure of their limited energetic costs and thereby lowered short-term net profits in favor of improved long-term contribution to the colony.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-329
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology B
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 1990


  • Energetics
  • Honeybee
  • Profitability
  • Thermoregulation
  • Time budget

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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