When a honey bee colony gets hot and bothered, the crisis sets tongues wagging. Middle-aged bees stick their tongues into the mouths of their elders, launching these special drinker bees to go collect water. That’s just one detail uncovered during a new study of how a colony superorganism cools in hot weather.
Using light bulbs to make heat waves in beehives, researchers have traced how honeybees communicate about collecting water and work together in deploying it as air-conditioning. The tests show just
SUPER GULP When a honeybee colony gets too hot, specialist drinker bees fly off to collect water (one shown tanking up at a pond dotted with duckweed plants). Helga R. Heilmann