Operative temperature analysis of the honey bee Apis mellifera

Stanley D. Stupski, Rudolf J. Schilder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A key challenge for linking experiments of organisms performed in a laboratory environment to their performance in more complex environments is to determine thermal differences between a laboratory and the energetically complex terrestrial ecosystem. Studies performed in the laboratory do not account for many factors that contribute to the realized temperature of an organism in its natural environment. This can lead to modelling approaches that use experimentally derived data to erroneously link the air temperature in a laboratory to air temperatures in energetically heterogenous ecosystems. Traditional solutions to this classic problem assume that animals in an isotropic, isothermal chamber behave either as pure heterothermic ectotherms (body temperature=chamber temperature) or homeothermic endotherms (body temperature is entirely independent of chamber temperature). This approach may not be appropriate for endothermic insects which exist as an intermediate between strongly thermoregulating endotherms and purely thermoconforming species. Here, we use a heat budget modelling approach for the honey bee Apis mellifera to demonstrate that the unique physiology of endothermic insects may challenge many assumptions of traditional biophysical modelling approaches. We then demonstrate under modelled field-realistic scenarios that an experiment performed in a laboratory has the potential to both overestimate and underestimate the temperature of foraging bees when only air temperature is considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberjeb231134
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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