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article imageBees spit water at each other to cool down

By Tim Sandle     Jul 25, 2016 in Science
New York - It's very hot weather so it's natural to seek air conditioning. Bees, it has recently been revealed, have a natural way to keep cool. Some bees have been observed spitting water at each other.
The bees observed carrying out the water spewing behavior are honeybees. This adds to the strategies already documented by which honeybees aim to lower the temperature in hot weather. The bees have been known to fan the hive or to reduce the numbers present in the hive at any point in time, in order to increase the airflow.
The new behavior is where a group of worker bees, carrying out a special function, fly off to find ponds or river, and then collect water droplets to take back to the hive to help cool down and replenish the thirst of those bees who are undertaking tasks within the hive. On entering the hive, the bees who have collected water spit out the water at the hive-dwelling bees. The water is either either use for other bees to drink or as a further means to cool down the hive (which is achieved through water evaporation.)
This is based on research conducted by Thomas Seeley at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. For the research, New Scientist magazine reports, Seeley established two hives of 3,000 bees in a research laboratory and subjected the hives to hot temperatures through the use of lamps.
One hive, a control, did not have access to water. Here the hive reached 43 degrees Celsius, which is a temperature considered dangerous to bees because larvae die (the researchers allowed the hive to cool incidentally so that the bee colony was not lost.) With the test hive, where there was a water source, the water collecting and spewing behavior was noticed. Here the hive did not overheat.
On social media, Cackle & Swarm (@cackleandswarm) amusingly tweeted: "So it's ok for bees but when I do this to people they don't like it."
The research is published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, in a paper titled "The behavioral regulation of thirst, water collection and water storage in honey bee colonies."
More about Bees, Honeybees, Air conditioning, Nature
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