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The Waggle Dance

Date Added: 07-07-2010
Category: Information About Bees & Conservation

Bee

A bee can convey the direction, distance and quality of food to other bees in the hive. When the food source is far away - more than 100 metres – she performs a Waggle Dance. This is how it works:-

  1. The worker bee – who is a female – flies to food and then flies back to tell the others, by dancing
  2. she runs in a straight line but waggles its abdomen – the back part of its body – and vibrates her wings. She then returns to her starting point.
  3. The crucial factor is the angle of the waggle line which shows the direction of the food.
  4. the bee’s speed tells other worker bees how good the food is and the longer the bee buzzes, the farther away the food is.
  5. Another important factor is the position of the sun. Depending on whether the bee is facing the entrance of the hive, or away from the entrance tells the other worker bees whether to fly towards where the sun is shining, or away from the sun, in the opposite direction.
  6. The waggle dance itself is in a figure of 8 formation.

How clever is that as a form of communication!

In 1973 Karl von Frisch won the Nobel Prize for his efforts in decoding the waggle dance.

By unpicking their dancing movements, scientists can work out how far away bees must travel to meet their nutritional needs.

Bees need honey themselves to provide them with the energy to fly. The further away they need to travel, the more energy they need to get there, and back.

If we all try to provide bees with a better floral environment by planting flowers that they like we will all be helping bees survive in the future.

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