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Science. 2004 Jul 16;305(5682):402-4. Epub 2004 Jun 24.

Honey bee nest thermoregulation: diversity promotes stability.

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, Macleay Building A12, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. jjones@bio.usyd.edu.au

Abstract

A honey bee colony is characterized by high genetic diversity among its workers, generated by high levels of multiple mating by its queen. Few clear benefits of this genetic diversity are known. Here we show that brood nest temperatures in genetically diverse colonies (i.e., those sired by several males) tend to be more stable than in genetically uniform ones (i.e., those sired by one male). One reason this increased stability arises is because genetically determined diversity in workers' temperature response thresholds modulates the hive-ventilating behavior of individual workers, preventing excessive colony-level responses to temperature fluctuations.

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