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    Since climate change is expected to bring more severe and frequent extreme weather events such as heat waves, assessing the physiological and behavioural sensitivity of organisms to temperature becomes a priority. We therefore investigated the responses of honeybees, an important insect pollinator, to simulated heat waves (SHW). Honeybees are known to maintain strict brood thermoregulation, but the consequences at the colony and individual levels remain poorly understood. For the first time, we quantified and modelled colony real-time activity and found a 70% increase in foraging activity with SHW, which was likely due to the recruitment of previously inactive bees. Pollen and nectar foraging was not impacted, but an increase in water foragers was observed at the expense of empty bees. Contrary to individual energetic resources, vitellogenin levels increased with SHW, probably to protect bees against oxidative stress. Finally, though immune functions were not altered, we observed a significant decrease in deformed wing virus loads with SHW. In conclusion, we demonstrated that honeybees could remarkably adapt to heat waves without a cost at the individual level and on resource flow. However, the recruitment of backup foraging forces might be costly by lowering the colony buffering capacity against additional environmental pressures.


    Célia Bordier, Hélène Dechatre, Séverine Suchail, Mathilde Peruzzi, Samuel Soubeyrand, Maryline Pioz, Michel Pélissier, Didier Crauser, Yves Le Conte, Cédric Alaux. Colony adaptive response to simulated heat waves and consequences at the individual level in honeybees (Apis mellifera). Scientific reports. 2017 Jun 19;7(1):3760

    PMID: 28630407

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