Journal of Bioeconomics

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 243–254 | Cite as

Float like a butterfly, \({\varvec{decide}}\) like a bee

  • Sven Grüner
  • Anica Fietz
  • Antje Jantsch


The decision-making behavior of individuals is limited by a lack of information and a limited capacity to process information. When seeking locations to construct a hive, the honeybee Apis mellifera collectively succeeds at overcoming these individual limitations and, thus, arrives at (nearly) optimal decisions. This article examines the behaviors and coordination mechanisms that have reinforced this trait in the course of evolution. We consider what lessons might be learned concerning human behavior and how better decisions can be made.


Honeybee Apis mellifera Bounded rationality  Collective intelligence/group intelligence Superorganism  Apis oeconomicus 

JEL Classification

D03 D70 



We would like to thank the editors of the special issue Ulrich Witt and Jennifer Fewell as well as the anonymous reviewers for their comments, ideas, and criticism. We would also like to express our sincere thanks to the beekeeper Werner Kaatz for all our fruitful discussions, the good moments we had together and sharing his knowledge with us. In addition, we are very grateful for the financial support provided by ScienceCampus Halle (WCH) and the German Research Foundation (DFG).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional SciencesMartin Luther University Halle-WittenbergHalle (Saale)Germany

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