Age structure is Critical to the Population Dynamics and Survival of Honey Bee Colonies: Supplementary Material

2016-11-08T11:09:30Z (GMT) by M. I. Betti L. M. Wahl M. Zamir
Age structure is an important feature of the division of labour within honeybee colonies, but its effects on colony dynamics have rarely been explored. We present a model of a honeybee colony that incorporates this key feature, and use this model to explore the effects of both winter and disease on the fate of the colony. The model offers a novel explanation for the frequently observed phenomenon of ‘spring dwindle’, which emerges as a natural consequence of the age-structured dynamics. Furthermore, the results indicate that a model taking age structure into account markedly affects the predicted timing and severity of disease within a bee colony. The timing of the onset of disease with respect to the changing seasons may also have a substantial impact on the fate of a honeybee colony. Finally, simulations predict that an infection may persist in a honeybee colony over several years, with effects that compound over time. Thus, the ultimate collapse of the colony may be the result of events several years past.