Age structure is Critical to the Population Dynamics and Survival of Honey Bee Colonies: Supplementary Material
2016-11-08T11:09:30Z (GMT) by
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.