ABS 2022
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Preliminary Data Suggest Feral Honey Bees Tolerate Thermal Stress Better Than Managed Honey Bees
Anngely C. Leeds, James C. Nieh. University of California, San Diego , La Jolla, California, United States

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) provide pollination services for many crops globally, but extreme weather and changing temperatures due to the climate crisis threaten the health of the species. Although we know that honey bee survival can decrease in response to thermal stress, we know less about how thermal stress affects feral honey bees given that they are potentially adapted to higher heat levels in certain climates. Our research investigated the effect of extreme hot and cold temperatures on feral and managed honey bees in San Diego County, California, by measuring survival between the two groups after exposure to incubator heat shock or cold shock. In this region, the majority of feral honey bees are genetically admixed with Apis mellifera scutellata, from Africa. In general, feral honey bees tolerated thermal stress better than managed honey bees. Feral bees had higher survival than managed honey bees following heat shock and cold shock. Future research regarding the effect of climate change on honey bees should account for the difference in survival between feral honey bees and managed honey bees following exposure to extreme temperatures.