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Water collection cools hive: honeybee


Honeybees collect water to keep their hives cool in arid conditions / Brian Fuller / LicenseCC-by-nd - Attribution No Derivatives

Honeybees cool the hive by collecting water, spreading it, and fanning to increase evaporation.

"Honeybee colonies collect water for two reasons, related to different types of weather: for cooling of the brood area by evaporation on hot days, and for feeding the larval brood when foraging is limited on cool days (Lindauer, 1955; Seeley, 1995). The classic studies of Lindauer showed how bees regulate the hive temperature in hot conditions (Lindauer, 1955). Water is collected by water foragers, then distributed around the hive and in cells containing eggs and larvae; fanning accelerates its evaporation, as does regurgitation and evaporation on the tongue (Lindauer, 1955). Visscher and colleagues measured mean water loads of 44 mg in honeybees collecting water under desert conditions (Visscher et al., 1996). Paper wasps and hornets also use water for cooling their nests, but the highly social stingless bees do not (Jones and Oldroyd, 2007; Roubik, 2006)." (Nicholson 2009:430-431)
About the inspiring organism
honey bee
Apis mellifera Linnaeus
Common name: Honey bee

Learn more at
Some organism data provided by: ITIS: The Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

IUCN Red List Status: Unknown

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Using collected water combined with fans to cool buildings.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Construction, manufacturing, clothing

Social Insects Research Group

Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria
Nicolson Lab
Sue Nicolson
University of Pretoria
Nicholson SW. 2009. Water homeostasis in bees, with the emphasis on sociality. Journal of Experimental Biology. 212: 429-434.
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