Bee Buzz Communication Is The Key!
‘Communication is the key.’
Nowadays, we do come across this phrase too often, which implies the need for communication and expression in the life of social animals like us!
Have you ever wondered how other social insects might be communicating to express themselves?
Let’s try to understand how bees communicate!
A sensory signal eliciting an animal’s behavioral change is a form of communication. The language consists of coded signals, which might be chemical, auditory, visual, tactile, or visual.
Bees perform different dances to communicate with hive-mates.
Let’s glance through a few of these moves!
Round Dance: This dance is performed by scout worker bees after finding a food source in the neighboring area of the hive to pass on the information to other scout bees.
The forager who has discovered a food source and has drunk nectar from the source comes to the comb and lets a drop of honey seep out on her proboscis.
A few bees take this fluid up by beating their antennae to test the quality of food found. After this, scout who has returned begins with an actual round dance.
The forager swiftly runs in a circle of diameter and suddenly reverses her direction turning again to her original course.
This dance is repeated twice, thrice, or sometimes 20 times, and then abruptly ends. The forager bee takes off, followed by other workers.
The returning bees as well dance more foragers to visit the food source site.
Tail Wagging Dance:
This dance is performed by scout worker bees after finding a food source that is far away from the hive, about 100 meters or more. It is an elaborate modification of round dance.
Here, the forager runs straight ahead for a short distance and moves in a semicircle to the starting point again, runs straight ahead for a short distance on the same axis and now moves in a semicircle to the starting point but in the opposite direction.
This to-and-fro movement is repeated 15 times a second as a regular alternate. Rapid side-wise waging of the body, which is maximum at the abdominal tip, is also exhibited.
Depending on the distance of the food source, the tail-wagging dance extends over a few to a larger number of combs. If the distance is nearer, a smaller number of combs are covered, and if the distance is far away, a large number of combs are covered.
The tempo of the tail-wagging dance also indicates the distance to be covered; the slower the tempo, the longer the distance, and vice-versa. Tail wagging dance also informs about the direction, which concerns the sun’s position.
These two dance patterns are elaborately studied in bees. Other than these few dance patterns are seen, which are:
This dance is performed to indicate a food source’s presence in the hive’s vicinity. Bees run agitatedly about the comb in various directions, perhaps exhibiting excitement!
Shake Dance: Neighbors are informed to groom the bee by its shaking dance. It is performed by standing on hind legs, stretching mid legs away from the body surface, and swaying the body. This will be the cue for another bee to clean the sides of the bee with her mandibles.
Sickle Dance: This dance falls between the round dance and the tail-wagging dance but isn’t fully understood yet.
These are just a few enlisted here. Bees exhibit a few more moves. The dance name might sometimes differ when you change the reference source.
Other than dance, bees also communicate chemically. Let’s briefly understand the chemistry of chemical communication.
Bees residing in one hive have a characteristic odor aiding in perception by the colony’s members. This is a recognition scent that avoids the entry of bees from another hive.
Isn’t this the amazing way in which nature ensures communication in all social beings, whether it’s a simple organism like a honey bee or a complex organism like a human?
Are you interested to know more about such facts?
Writer – Prachi Erankar
Subject Matter Expert(Biology)