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Advances in the timing of spring cleaning by the honeybee Apis mellifera in Poland


Tim H. Sparks, 68 Girton Road, Girton, Cambridge CB3 0LN, U.K. E-mail:


1. The honeybee Apis mellifera is of huge worldwide economic importance in the pollination of crops for human consumption. In recent years, honeybee populations have declined under pressure from diseases and pests. Climate change is increasingly being viewed as an additional threat to honeybees and yet only limited research has been carried out in this area.

2. This paper reports the advance of the first cleansing flight (‘spring cleaning’) of the honeybee in Poznań, Poland, i.e. flights to excrete faeces, over a month in the period 1985–2009. The timing of this flight is advanced not only by higher late winter/spring temperatures but also by higher temperatures in the previous summer and autumn.

3. This earlier activity gives hope that the reported earlier flowering of many native and cultivated species will not cause a pollination synchrony crisis.