“At around midday on 22nd February 2014, we had arrived at a stream in the Ulu Langat forest (Selangor, Peninsular Malaysia). Despite a severe lack of rain over the preceding weeks, a steady flow of freshwater was indeed a welcome sight (above).
“Our attentions were drawn towards a small swarm of Giant Honey Bees (Apis dorsata) which was descending upon a particular spot along the stream where a thin film of water was washing over a smooth, rounded boulder (above).
“With proboscis extended, the thirsty bees eagerly lapped up this clean water (above). A video clip of their drinking activity may be previewed below:
“As you enjoy listening to the gurgling of the crystal clear stream, you may also be amused by the regular pulsations of the bees’ abdomens as they gulp up the sweet fresh water.
“Imbibing this water may mean more than just quenching their thirst. Collectively, much of this water may be brought back to the beehive and distributed as tiny droplets over the combs to aid in evaporative cooling, especially when mid-day temperatures soar and threaten to melt the beeswax (Koeniger et al., 2010). Indeed, an excellent example of fine-tuned, cooperative thermoregulation for these social insects.”
Dr. Leong Tzi Ming & Gary Lim
5th March 2014
Koeniger, N., G. Koeniger & S. Tingek, 2010. Honey Bees of Borneo – Exploring the Centre of Apis Diversity. Natural History Publications (Borneo), Kota Kinabalu. xix + 262 pp.