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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Campbell, Wyoming USA
    Posts
    425

    Default Winter cluster generating heat

    I've read in a bunch of books that during winter while the bees are clustering they can 'unhook' or 'unhinge' their wings from the muscles used for flight and vibrate those muscles to generate heat rather than for flying. Could someone point me towards a resource or give me a scientific explanation of what is actually occuring physiologicaly when the bees do this?
    We the willing have done so much with so little for so long we can now do anything with nothing

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,933

    Default Re: Winter cluster generating heat

    Here is some info:

    The ability to fly far and fast has greatly contributed to the success of bees. They can forage up to three miles from their hives, and reach speeds of 15 miles per hour. Bees have four wings, but a row of small hooks, called hamuli, on the leading edge of the hindwing fits securely into a groove on the trailing edge of the forewing, allowing the bee to couple the wings together into a single flight surface. When at rest, the bee can unhook its wings and fold them back.

    More at
    http://www.aragriculture.org/insects...y_honeybee.htm
    And a remarkable photo of the hamuli (hooks):



    Photo linked from this site: (there's an enlargement there also)
    http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1599
    ultracrepidarian >> noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside of his expertise

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Gordonsville,VA USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Winter cluster generating heat

    That is so dang cool, and I think those hooks are made of gold... hummm I have to guard my girls , or the dang greedies will get the hooks. These amazingly blessed creatures sure cease to amaze me.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Campbell, Wyoming USA
    Posts
    425

    Default Re: Winter cluster generating heat

    I think you meant never cease to amaze you G`ville beek . That's a phenomenal picture thanks Rader. So it's not that the wing itself detatches from a muscle or muscle group it's that the wings detatch from one another. Does the forewing move while generating heat then? If I'm understanding this correctly the muscles would be the actual energy output, the forewing is on the receiving end of the muscles output and by "hooking" the hindwing to the forewing the bee is able to create a large wing used for flight. At rest it can fold it's hind wings back by unhooking from the forewing (obviously usefull for crawling around the hive) but the forewing is still connected to the muscle it doesn't ever disconnect from the energy source that generates heat.
    We the willing have done so much with so little for so long we can now do anything with nothing

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,876

    Default Re: Winter cluster generating heat

    I don't think that is correct either but I may be wrong. The internal muscle flexing I believe is what causes the heat. Even one unhooked wing beating in a cluster would seem to me to cause outward airflows that would be damaging. That is just what makes sense to me from what I have read. The outer layer of bees on a winter cluster that I have actually observed don't seem to be doing much.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,933

    Default Re: Winter cluster generating heat

    When a human, or other mammal, gets cold and starts shivering, the shivering action is a series of small contractions of muscles, and generates heat. Even though your arm muscles may be moving in a shivering action, your arms themselves are not moving significantly.

    I haven't found a reference that says whether bees have a way of disconnecting both sets of wings or just one set, but either way I suspect that bees can engage in a shivering type action that exercises their wing muscles ( and generates heat) without making their wings move back and forth appreciably.
    ultracrepidarian >> noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside of his expertise

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