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Dependence of the life span of the honeybee (Apis mellifica) upon flight performance and energy consumption

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The life span of worker-honeybees is determined by the duration of the hive-period and of the foraging period (Figs. 1,2). The duration of the forgaing period is regulated in the following way: Total flight performance of the individual bee seems to be fixed. Daily flight performance strongly affects total flight duration. High daily flight performance decreases maximal flight duration and vice versa.

Foragers accumulate the highest glycogen reserves in the flight muscles compared to other stages (Figs. 3, 4). They use these reserves to overcome starvation or when growing old. Young foragers are able to restore glycogen reserves after sugar intake, whereas old foragers were found to have a reduced glycogen synthesizing ability (Fig. 5).

The results indicate that bees exhaust their energysupplying mechanisms after a definite total flight performance.

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Neukirch, A. Dependence of the life span of the honeybee (Apis mellifica) upon flight performance and energy consumption. J Comp Physiol B 146, 35–40 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00688714

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