Behaviour 2019
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Social interactions facilitate collective thermoregulatory fanning behavior in honey bees
Chelsea N Cook, Riya Virani, Kyara Vazquez, Elma Peco, Trevor Bawden. Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States


Collective behavioral responses to changing temperatures require effective reception and integration of both social and ecological information. Interaction rates may mediate this integration, as it likely does during behaviors such as foraging. We established a social dose response curve to explore whether interaction rates facilitate fanning behavior. Honey bees must maintain 34C in their colony, or risk death of their developing brood. To cool their colony, honey bees fan their wings to circulate air. Fanning is a social behavior: single bees rarely fan, while groups of 10 bees fan more and are more accurate when fanning. When honey bee groups can’t interact, they are less likely to fan. We characterized type of interaction, duration of interaction, and number of interactions in the group as we increased group size. Bees in larger groups had more and longer interactions, and fanned more compared to bees in smaller groups. Our results show that social interactions may mediate the flow of thermal information, leading to a better fanning response. This work provides fundamental insight into how information is shared in social groups during a collective behavioral response.