The Dance of the Honeybee: How Do Honeybees Dance to Transfer Food Information Effectively?

Abstract

A honeybee informs her nestmates of the location of a flower she has visited by a unique behavior called a “waggle dance.” On a vertical comb, the direction of the waggle run relative to gravity indicates the direction to the food source relative to the sun in the field, and the duration of the waggle run indicates the distance to the food source. To determine the detailed biological features of the waggle dance, we observed worker honeybee behavior in the field. Video analysis showed that the bee does not dance in a single or random place in the hive but waggled several times in one place and then several times in another. It also showed that the information of the waggle dance contains a substantial margin of error. Angle and duration of waggle runs varied from run to run, with the range of ±15° and ±15%, respectively, even in a series of waggle dances of a single individual. We also found that most dance followers that listen to the waggle dance left the dancer after one or two sessions of listening.

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Correspondence to R. Okada.

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Okada, R., Ikeno, H., Sasayama, N. et al. The Dance of the Honeybee: How Do Honeybees Dance to Transfer Food Information Effectively?. BIOLOGIA FUTURA 59, 157–162 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1556/ABiol.59.2008.Suppl.24

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Keywords

  • Apis mellifera
  • waggle dance
  • foraging
  • food location
  • honeybee
  • social insect