Secret world of honeybees' heat revealed

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London, March 14 (ANI): A new research by scientists in Germany has shown that honeybees precisely control the temperature inside their hives to determine which job their young will perform in the colony when mature.

Bees, and other social insects such as ants, share jobs within a colony so each individual has specific role that benefits the colony as a whole.

It is this division of labour that has allowed bees to become so successful as they behave like a highly organised, single "superorganism" rather than a cluster of selfish individuals.

And the secret of honeybees' success has been discovered living deep inside their hives - a special type of bee, which acts like a living radiator, warming the nest and controlling the colony's complex social structure.

The "heater bees" have been found to play a crucial, and previously unappreciated, role in the survival of honeybee colonies.Using new technology, researchers found that heater bees are responsible for maintaining the temperature of the brood nest in a hive, where young bees, known as pupae, are sealed into wax cells while they develop into mature bees.

Professor Jurgen Tautz, head of the bee group at Wurzburg University, in Germany, and colleagues found that the heater bees work to subtly change the temperature of each developing pupae by around a degree and this small change determines what kind of honey bee it will become.

For example, those kept at 35 degrees C turn into the intelligent forager bees that leave the nest in search of nectar and pollen.

Those kept at 34 degrees C emerge as "house keeper" bees that never leave the nest, conducting chores such as feeding the larvae and cleaning the nest.

Tautz said this allows the heater bees to control what sort of job a bee will fulfil when it matures and so ensure there are always enough bees filling each role within the colony.

"The bees are controlling the environment they live in to make sure they can fill a need within the colony," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

"Each bee in a colony performs a different profession - there are guard bees, nest building bees, brood caretaking bee, queen caretaking bee and forager bees, which are the ones we are familiar with as they leave the colony.

"By carefully regulating the temperature of each pupae, they change the way it develops and the likelihood of the role it will fulfil when it emerges as an adult," he added. (ANI)

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