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A model for heat transfer in a honey bee swarm

Basak, Tanmay and Rao, Kesava K and Bejan, Adrian (1996) A model for heat transfer in a honey bee swarm. In: Chemical Engineering Science, 51 (3). pp. 387-400.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0009-2509(95)00283-9


A swarm is a temporary structure formed when several thousand honey bees leave their hive and settle on some object such as the branch of a tree. They remain in this position until a suitable site for a new home is located by the scout bees. A continuum model based on heat conduction and heat generation is used to predict temperature profiles in swarms. Since internal convection is neglected, the model is applicable only at low values of the ambient temperature T-a. Guided by the experimental observations of Heinrich (1981a-c, J. Exp. Biol. 91, 25-55; Science 212, 565-566; Sci. Am. 244, 147-160), the analysis is carried out mainly for non-spherical swarms. The effective thermal conductivity is estimated using the data of Heinrich (1981a, J. Exp. Biol. 91, 25-55) for dead bees. For T-a = 5 and 9 degrees C, results based on a modified version of the heat generation function due to Southwick (1991, The Behaviour and Physiology of Bees, PP 28-47. C.A.B. International, London) are in reasonable agreement with measurements. Results obtained with the heat generation function of Myerscough (1993, J. Theor. Biol. 162, 381-393) are qualitatively similar to those obtained with Southwick's function, but the error is more in the former case. The results suggest that the bees near the periphery generate more heat than those near the core, in accord with the conjecture of Heinrich (1981c, Sci. Am. 244, 147-160). On the other hand, for T-a = 5 degrees C, the heat generation function of Omholt and Lonvik (1986, J. Theor. Biol. 120, 447-456) leads to a trivial steady state where the entire swarm is at the ambient temperature. Therefore an acceptable heat generation function must result in a steady state which is both non-trivial and stable with respect to small perturbations. Omholt and Lonvik's function satisfies the first requirement, but not the second. For T-a = 15 degrees C, there is a considerable difference between predicted and measured values, probably due to the neglect of internal convection in the model.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Chemical Engineering Science
Publisher: Elsevier Science
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Elsevier Science.
Department/Centre: Division of Mechanical Sciences > Chemical Engineering
Date Deposited: 10 May 2011 09:21
Last Modified: 10 May 2011 09:21
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/37006

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