Waggle Dance Language Key: Science Finds The Rosetta Stone for Bees

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 31 March 2019




Bee, Marked for Waggle Dance Reading
 Virginia Tech.
The researchers analyzed the dances of 85 marked bees from three hives. Credit: Virginia Tech


Science Finds The Rosetta Stone for Bees

Codifying the Universal Language of Honey Bees,
Virginia Tech, March 27, 2019.


Bee Language Key?
“...the researchers present an extraordinary foundational advance - a universal calibration, or for science fiction aficionados, a "babel fish," that translates honey bee communications across sub-species and landscapes.”

“The researchers analyzed the dances of 85 marked bees from three hives.”

“...examining pollinator behavior in different landscapes to determine where and when planting supplemental forage could have the most positive impact on pollinator nutrition and health.”

Bee Dance Language
The Known
“...the angle of the dancer's body relative to the vertical encodes the direction of the forage, and the distance to the food source is communicated by the duration of the bee's dance.”

Waggle Runs
“...a successful forager returns to the hive and communicates the distance and direction from the hive to the food source by performing multiple, repeated figure-eight-like movements called waggle runs.”

Dance Move Variations
“...different bees conveying the same location can vary their waggle runs, and even individual bees repeating a run may alter their dance.”

Developing the Bee Dance Key
"We have collected this information from many bees in two different landscapes separated by an ocean and several years."

Departing the UK, the researchers, “...sought to determine whether or not their system could be applied to A. mellifera ligustica, a different genetic subspecies in the United States, and across a very different landscape.”

"It takes a lot of time, effort, and expense to conduct this kind of study… We decode dances by hand."

“Their meticulous calibration process requires that each bee is numbered and videotaped. Team members then spend months in front of computers analyzing each dancer's movements to determine a distance-to-duration calibration.”

“Their next step was to compare and then collate their data with all published calibration studies.”

Bee Dancing Language is Universal among Bees

"While there were differences among populations in how they communicate, it doesn't matter from the bees' perspective."

“In effect, a bee from England would understand a bee from Virginia and would find a food source in the same way with a similar success rate.”

Bee Lingua Codex
“...providing scientists around the world with a codex to decipher where bees are collecting food. Such knowledge stands not only to inform best practices for bee-friendly planting, but will be crucial to maintaining their populations.”



Dancing Bees

Dancing Shoes for Bees: How to do the Bee Dance


Dancing Bees: Are Humans Killing the Waggle Dance?
Image of Dancing Bee



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