[2021-Vol.18-Issue 5]Effects of Nectar Property on Compensated Dipping Behavior of Honey Bees with Damaged Tongues
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Journal of Bionic Engineering (2021) 18:1225–1234

Effects of Nectar Property on Compensated Dipping Behavior of Honey Bees with Damaged Tongues 

Jingrui Wang1  · Yu Sun2  · Wei Zhang2  · Yunqiang Yang1  · Shaoze Yan3  · Jianing Wu2 

1 School of Engineering and Technology, China University of Geosciences (Beijing), Beijing 100083, China
2 School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510006, China
3 Division of Intelligent and Biomechanical Systems, State Key Laboratory of Tribology, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China

AbstractIn nature, bees with damaged tongues are adapted to have a feat in collecting nectariferous sources in a large spectrum of concentrations (19%–69%) or viscosities (10–3 Pa·s to 10–1 Pa·s); however, efects of nectar property on compensated dipping behavior remain elusive. Combining the bee tongue anatomy, high-speed videography, and mathematical models, we investigate responses of honey bees with damaged tongues to fuidic sources in various properties. We fnd that, bees with 80% damaged tongues are deprived of feeding capability and remarkably, the dipping frequency increases from 4.24 Hz to 5.08 Hz while ingesting 25% sugar water when the tongue loses 0–30% in length, while declines from 5.08 to 3.86 Hz in case of 30% damaged tongue when sucrose concentration increases from 25% to 45%. We employ the energetic compensation rate and energetic utilization rate to evaluate efectiveness of the compensation from the perspective of energetic regulation. The mathematical model indicates that the energetic compensation rate turns higher in bees with less damaged tongues for ingesting dilute sugar water, demonstrating its capability of functional compensation for combined factors. Also, the tongue-damaged bees achieve the highest energetic utilization rate when ingesting~30% sugar water. Beyond biology, the fndings may shed lights on biomimetic materials and technologies that aim to compensate for geometrical degradations without regeneration. 

Keywords Honey bee · Damaged tongue · Nectar property · Fluid transport · Functional compensation

Fig. 2

Tongue morphology of a honey bee. Natural feeding behavior of honey bees on diverse liquid sources such as a floral nectar and b sap secreted on the tree bark. Appearance of a c normal tongue, d 20% damaged tongue, and e 30% damaged tongue while dipping nectar observed under a microscope. f–h SEM images of longitudinally dissected tongue. The tongue sheath is a thick cuticle layer, connected by flexible membranes bearing hairs

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