Winter weight data in honey bees
Honey bees are currently facing mounting pressures that have resulted in population declines in many parts of the world. In northern climates winter is a bottleneck for honey bees and a thorough understanding of the colonies’ ability to withstand the winter is needed in order to protect the bees from further decline. In this study the influence of weather variables on colony weight loss was studied over one winter (2019-2020) in two apiaries (32 colonies in total) in southwestern Sweden with weather stations recording wind, temperature, humidity and precipitation at 5-min intervals. Three subspecies of honey bees and one hybrid were studied: the native Apis mellifera mellifera, the Italian A. m. ligustica, the Carniolan A. m. carnica and the hybrid Buckfast. Additionally, we recorded Varroa mite infestation.
To analyze factors involved in resource consumption, three modelling approaches using weather and weight data were developed: the first links daily consumption rates with environmental variables, the second modelled the cumulative weight change over time, and the third estimated weight ch
To analyze factors involved in resource consumption, three modelling approaches using weather and weight data were developed: the first links daily consumption rates with environmental variables, the second modelled the cumulative weight change over time, and the third estimated weight change over time taking light intensity and temperature into account.
Weight losses were in general low (0.039 ± 0.013kg/day and colony) and comparable to southern locations, likely due to an exceptionally warm winter (average temperature 3.5°C). Weight losses differed only marginally between subspecies with indications that A. m. mellifera was having a more conservative resource consumption, but more studies are needed to confirm this. We did not find any effect of Varroa mite numbers on weight loss.
In general, increasing light and temperature increase resource consumption in honey bees and within the temperature ranges of the experiment resource consumption was found to be in accordance with the master equation of metabolic theory of ecology (MTE). The effects of climate change could potentially affect the honey bees’ overwintering strategies and successes since temperature is expected to change but light intensity is expected to remain the same. A dependence on both light and temperature to guide resource consumption could thus potentially limit the honey bees’ ability to adapt to a changing climate. Show less..
Principal's reference number
Responsible department/unitUniversity of Skövde, School of Bioscience
- Funding agency: EU-financed INTERREG Sweden-Norway programme - European Structural and Investment Funds in Sweden (2014-2020)
- Funding agency's reference number: 20201923
- Project name on the application: BIstånd till nordiska bin - unik resurs för framtidens ekosystemtjänster
Data contains personal data
Time period(s) investigated
2019-10-26 – 2020-03-15
Biobank is connected to the study
The study has collected samples/material which are stored in a scientific collection or biobank
Scientific collection or biobank name: Swedish Museum of Natural History
Type(s) of sample: bee material (Nos. NHRS-HEVA000017564-17579 Uddevalla, NHRS-HEVA000017580-17611 NordensArk)
Norrström, N., Niklasson, M. and Leidenberger, S. (2021). Winter weight loss of different subspecies of honey bee Apis mellifera colonies (Linnaeus, 1758) in southwestern Sweden, PLoS ONE
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Data format / data structure
- Description of the mode of collection: Weight loss of honey bees with help of a scale system the beehives were placed on
- Time period(s) for data collection: 2019-10-26–2020-03-15
- Instrument: Scale system with weather station Wolf-Waage - model ApiGraph 3.1 and model ApiWeather-RF6, Wolf-Waagen GmbH & Co, Germany