Ever since Karl von Frisch, back in 1927 published his theoretical analysis in the book titled as “Aus dem Leben der Bienen” (translated into English as The Dancing Bees) humanity started seeing Honeybees in different light. In his studies he claimed lot of things which were revolutionary in understanding of Honeybees. He claimed that Honeybees have color vision and that they orientate by sun. But he didn’t stop there! Furthermore, he claimed that Honeybees communicate with pheromones and dances by which they relate locations of food to each other. This was beginning of decoding of the “waggle dance” (name of Honeybee communication dance). Only much later it was proven that his theoretical analysis was correct! Eventually, in 1973 Karl con Frisch received a Nobel prize for his discovery.
Karl von Frisch worked with Carnolian Honeybee (Apis mellifera carnica) specie, tests with other types of Honeybee species very soon revealed that “waggle dance” had different versions! Allow me to rephrase that. Yes, language of Honeybees has multiple dialects! Even though all of the Honeybees relate their findings by spinning in circles or in forms of number 8 while wiggling of their behinds, same number of spins and wiggles means different things in different species! Simply, number of rotations means different things from specie to specie! Just like all in case of humans. We all use words, sometimes even same, but they mean different things in different languages!
Decoding of the “waggle dance”
All of these discoveries led humanity to adopt entirely different view on Honeybees. They stopped being just a hardworking insects and humanity finally understood that they are very complex society! Since Karl von Frisch new discoveries were made with intention of decoding of the “waggle dance”. In first part of February 2020 we witnessed to 2 new separate studies in this field. One from USA, while other one is from United Kingdom.
“The thing I think is the most interesting about bees is their communication,” Morgan Carr-Markell, a PhD student at the University of Minnesota and the lead author of a new study published in the journal PLOS One, told Washington AFP.
Two main questions of the US study were: what types of flowers do honeybees prefer for foraging pollen and nectar and when do they engage in most of their foraging activity.
Even though this study does not seem to deal with any new topics, researchers which were working on it did manage to decode and map the flowers that the honeybees signaled in 1,528 waggle dances.
United Kingdom Study
In the new new study, led by postdoctoral researcher, Dr Matthew Hasenjager from the Department of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway at the University of London, the researchers have proven the simultaneous spread of both dance-based and food-odor information as it traveled through the hive. In other words, Honeybees spread information of sources of food not just by dance, but odor too! This certainly broadens understanding of Honeybee communication!
Further, Dr Hasenjager, said: “We’ve known for a long time that bees can use the waggle dance to find new foraging sites, but the extent to which they actually do so is less well understood. Several recent studies have shown that colonies without this information often perform just fine.”
And in conclusion, Dr Hasenjager said: “We found that bees searching for new foraging locations relied overwhelmingly on dance-based information, whereas decisions to revisit known locations were instead guided mostly by olfactory communication.” Olfactory communication stands for transfer of odor information from one Honeybee to another.
We at the World Of Honeybees greet and congratulate on both of these studies! Feel welcome to read more News on the World of Honeybees.