bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Feverish temperature fights disease

A high temperature can indicate a fever, but in the case of bees it seems it can be an evolved approach to fighting disease. Tufts University biology Professor Philip Starks and his graduate student researchers are uncovering the secret lives of honeybees and paper wasps:

“One of our discoveries has to do with the ability of a colony to mount a group level temperature response to disease,” says Starks. ”We introduced a particular infection that impacts young, developing larvae into some of our hives and used temperature probes to measure the temperature of the brood comb. We noticed that the temperature within the hive spiked in response to the infection ... so what honeybees do is elevate the temperature of a hive to the point that the fungal pathogen can't take root in the larvae. It's sort of a preventative fever.”
Thanks to Cat for the link.

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