Free access
Volume 21, Number 2, 1990
Page(s) 135 - 142
Apidologie 21 (1990) 135-142
DOI: 10.1051/apido:19900207

Quantification of cluster size and low ambient temperature relationships in the honey bee

D.W. Severson and E.H. Erickson Jr

University of Wisconsin, Department of Entomology, Madison, WI 53706, and US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Bee Research Unit, Madison, WI 53706, USA

Abstract - Cluster volume and surface area were measured over a range of ambient temperatures (Ta) in 3 honey bee colonies representative of small, medium and large populations from 29 November 1984 to 21 March 1985. Changes in these parameters were correlated with changes in Ta, and the observed response to Ta was independent of population size. We observed decreases of about 55% in cluster volume and 40% in cluster surface area as the Ta decreased from 4 °C to -23 °C.

Key words: Apis mellifera / cluster size / homeothermy / honey consumption / thermoregulation