Sensitivity of Honeybees to Slow Humidity Changes and Temporal Humidity Variation

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  1. Americasbeekeeper

    Americasbeekeeper New Member

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    Sensitivity of Honeybee Hygroreceptors to Slow Humidity Changes and Temporal Humidity Variation Detected in High Resolution by Mobile Measurements
    The moist cell and the dry cell on the antenna of the male honeybee were exposed to humidities slowly rising and falling at rates between –1.5%/s and +1.5%/s and at varying amplitudes in the 10 to 90% humidity range. The two cells respond to these slow humidity oscillations with oscillations in impulse frequency which depend not only on instantaneous humidity but also on the rate with which humidity changes. The impulse frequency of each cell was plotted as a function of these two parameters and regression planes were fitted to the data points of single oscillation periods. The regression slopes, which estimate sensitivity, rose with the amplitude of humidity oscillations. During large-amplitude oscillations, moist and dry cell sensitivity for instantaneous humidity and its rate of change was high. During small-amplitude oscillations, their sensitivity for both parameters was low, less exactly reflecting humidity fluctuations. Nothing is known about the spatial and temporal humidity variations a honeybee may encounter when flying through natural environments. Microclimatic parameters (absolute humidity, temperature, wind speed) were measured from an automobile traveling through different landscapes of Lower Austria. Landscape type affected extremes and mean values of humidity. Differences between peaks and troughs of humidity fluctuations were generally smaller in open grassy fields or deciduous forests than in edge habitats or forest openings. Overall, fluctuation amplitudes were small. In this part of the stimulus range, hygroreceptor sensitivity is not optimal for encoding instantaneous humidity and the rate of humidity change. It seems that honeybee's hygroreceptors are specialized for detecting large-amplitude fluctuations that are relevant for a specific behavior, namely, maintaining a sufficiently stable state of water balance. The results suggest that optimal sensitivity of both hygroreceptors is shaped not only by humidity oscillation amplitudes but also according to their impact on behavior.