The orchid bee Euglossa imperialis sucks nectars through a slender proboscis. I tested how nectar properties influence this suction pressure and whether ambient air pressure sets the upper limit for suction feeding. Nectar intake rate was measured as a function of sucrose concentration (5-75% w/w), nectar viscosity (2-80 mPa s), and ambient pressure (101-40 kPa). Intake rate declines from about 1.2 mul s(-1) to 0.003 mul s(-1) as sucrose concentration increases from 15% to 65% sucrose. When sucrose concentration is held at 25% while viscosity increases from 2 to 80 mPa s, intake rate declines. When viscosity is held at 10.2 mPa s (the viscosity of 50% sucrose) while sucrose concentration increases from 5% to 50%, intake rate remains constant. Intake rate was limited by a reduction in ambient pressure at all nectar concentrations. Assuming a rigid proboscis, the Hagen-Poiseuille equation suggests that suction pressure increases with viscosity from 10 kPa at 5% sucrose to 45 kPa at 65% sucrose. However, because intake rate declined by the same fraction under hypobaria (40 kPa) at all sucrose concentrations, the euglossine bee proboscis may be better described as a collapsible tube: expanding or collapsing depending on the flow rate, the pressure gradient along the proboscis, and circumferential forces imposed by the proboscis walls.
Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research
Choose a citation style from the tabs below