POST Online Media Lite Edition



 

Honeybees' waggle dance no longer useful in some cultivated landscapes

Staff Writer |
For bees and other social insects, being able to exchange information is vital for the success of their colony.

Article continues below




One way honeybees do this is through their waggle dance, which is a unique pattern of behavior, which probably evolved more than 20 million years ago.

A bee's waggle dance tells its sisters in the colony where to find a high-quality source of food.

However, in recent years people have begun to study the actual benefits of this dance language.

Biologists at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germany have now shed some new light on the benefits and disadvantages of the bee dance.

"To our surprise, we found that bee colonies are more successful at collecting food if they are deprived of their dance language," reported Dr. Christoph Grüter, a behavioral ecologist at Mainz University.

One possible reason may be human-induced habitat change.

Together with his colleagues in Lausanne, Grüter conducted experiments over several years to examine what effect the dance language has on a colony's success.

There are about ten different species of honeybees communicating through waggle dancing.

However, the vast majority of bees, i.e., more than 500 species of highly social stingless insects, have no dance language.

Thus, Grüter was interested in the benefits the waggle dance brings to colonies, not least because, as a communication strategy, it is relatively time-consuming.

Some waggle dances can last only a few seconds, while others may take up to five minutes.

In the experiments, the scientists manipulated the conditions influencing some of the bee colonies to confuse and, as a result, disorientate the dancing bees.

Performed under such conditions, the waggle dance no longer made sense to its bee audience.

To create these conditions, light was prevented from falling on the honeycombs, and they were also turned into a horizontal position, preventing the bees from using gravity to orientate themselves.

Another particularly important aspect was to take into account their ability to memorize the location of food.

"Bees foraging for food have an excellent memory and can recall a rich feeding spot for several days," explained Grüter.

Thus, the research team had to prevent foragers performing the waggle dance for 18 days to ensure they could not use their memory to tell other bees where to fly to find the excellent sources of food.

Foraging bees are older than other colony members. In their final phase of life, they no longer work in the hive, but go out to collect nectar and pollen.

Typically, they are in the last 18 days of their life.

The team of biologists was surprised by their result that beehives without the dance information were more active and produced more honey than beehives that used dance language.

"We were expecting to confirm that dance language was important, but our results were the exact opposite," said Dr. Robbie I'Anson Price, lead author of the study.

"I suspect that the bees probably lose interest when confronted with a disoriented dance, and they go out to search for food on their own initiative," added Price.

The differences are significant: Bees in colonies with no dance language went on foraging flights that were eight minutes longer and yielded 29 percent more honey over the entire 18-day period than bees using the waggle dance.

The conclusion is that some bees, such as the Buckfast bee in this study, a 100-year-old cross-bred western honeybee, may do better without social communication.

Grüter believes that the environment and the availability of food play an important role.

If there is a large apple tree in full bloom nearby, then waiting for information on its location is probably a good strategy.

If, on the other hand, there is only a sparse scattering of flowering plants on balconies or roadsides, it may be better to leave the hive sooner and forage independently.

"In our opinion, the behavior we observed can be primarily explained in terms of how much time the bees save," said Grüter.

By observing the bees, the scientists made the extraordinary discovery that the bees were apparently able to judge the relevance of the information content of a dance and hence would lose interest in disoriented dancing.

"It looks as if after a while they become aware that something is wrong," postulated Grüter.

"Our results raise the possibility that humans have created environments to which the waggle dance language is not well adapted," write the authors in their study, recently published in the journal Science Advances.

The idea that bees may be capable of evaluating the quality of information in a dance is one that Grüter wants to investigate more closely in the future.

He is also planning to repeat the experiments in the Mainz area under different conditions - in urban and rural areas and at different times of the year.

Christoph Grüter has been head of a research team at the Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz since 2015.

Previously, he was head of a research group at the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.

His group investigates how social insects organize and coordinate their collective activities, with communication in insect colonies playing a central role.


U.S.: Powerful storm to impact western part; fire weather concerns for areas of Plains

 
A significant winter storm will impact much of the West heading into the weekend, including dangerous, blizzard conditions for the Sierra Nevada.
 
 

Latest

Oil rig count up to 629
MF Meats recalls meat contaminated with oil not for food
€1.9 million from European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to support 390 dismissed workers in Denmark
€3 million from European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to support 835 dismissed steel workers in Germany

NEWS

Europol supports EPPO investigation into EUR 195 million VAT fraud scheme

Zambia declares state of disaster due to drought
No agreement reached between Polish PM and protesting farmers
1 dead, 2 missing as fishing boat capsizes off South Korea's southern island
Residents near collapsed mine in Venezuela continue to be evacuated
Croatia: 2 arrested on suspicion of agricultural subsidy fraud and document forgery
 

BUSINESS

One in three Swiss companies pays bribes abroad

Indonesia launches ammonium nitrate plant to boost food self-sufficiency
Work to deliver Midlands Rail Hub set to begin with £123 million
British Columbia’s minimum wage increases to $17.40 an hour on June 1
Madrid Metro Line 3 extension now 65% complete
Saudi Arabia launches new clean Euro 5 fuels
 

Trending Now

Three partners unite for landmark hybrid wind-solar farm offshore Italy

Italy regulator fines Enel unit 79 million euros for telemarketing abuses

New Zealand develops salmon farming in open sea

JoS. A. Bank appoints Byron Bergren to its board


POLITICS

Morocco aims to manufacture first plane by 2030

$30 million in initial SEEDS grants to accelerate development of industrial sites across Alabama
$7.5 million state investment supports Illinois' growing EV industry and workforce
Russia to ban gasoline exports for 6 months starting March 1
Qatar announces new LNG expansion project
Local leaders to receive £4.7 billion to transform transport across North and Midlands
 

Today We Recommend

Morocco aims to manufacture first plane by 2030


Highlights 

Infineon Technologies announces over 100 new jobs in Ireland

Macy's to shut 150 stores in growth, revitalization plan

Kyowa Kirin to bring more than 100 new jobs to Sanford, North Carolina


COMPANIES

Three partners unite for landmark hybrid wind-solar farm offshore Italy

Ethiopian inaugurates first of its kind e-commerce logistics facility at Bole International Airport
Exxon files lawsuit against climate activist investors Arjuna Capital and Follow This
Germany's KWS launches phase two of seed plant in Ukraine
Safran Aircraft Engines establishes new foundry in Rennes, Brittany for turbine blade manufacturing
Poland's Cargounit invests in Siemens locomotives for European rail modernization
 

CAREERS

Oxehealth appoints Todd Haedrich as CEO

Alan Berger joins Multi-Wing global board as non-executive director
BioMar appoints new VP for Asia
APO Group appoints Laila Bastati as chief commercial officer
TerraPay appoints Ruben Salazar Genovez as president
Personetics names Udi Ziv as new CEO
 

ECONOMY

South Korea's export grows for 5th straight month in February

Finland's economy contracted by 1.0 pct in 2023
Austria's GDP shrinks 0.8 pct in 2023
Canada's economic growth slows in 2023
U.S. Q4 GDP slightly revised down to 3.2 pct
More 15 and 16 year olds in Netharlands in paid work
 

EARNINGS

Dell Technologies Q4 revenue $22.3 billion

Hormel Foods Q1 sales $3.0 billion
Fortaco Q4 sales EUR 101.9 million
Statkraft delivered its second highest result
Dar Global revenues $360.6 million
Best Buy Q4 profit $460 million
 

OP-ED

Micromanaging is the worst enemy of efficiency and teamwork

Niger set to monetize massive gas reserves through Saharan natural gas pipeline
Putting the brakes on EV folly that choked the market
Oil discovery in Kavango Basin may mean huge benefits for Namibians
Cape Town and Dubai battle over Africa's energy future
Is America going to lose its superpower status?
 

AGRIFISH

New Zealand develops salmon farming in open sea

State Veterinarian confirms rabies in Middle Tennessee horse
Census of agriculture reveals increase in number of farms in New Jersey
Qatar imposes import restrictions on Jordanian leafy vegetables
Population growth of “bee hunting fly” detected in Buenos Aires
Philippines formally accepts Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies
 

LEADERSHIP

Generating 'buzz' about new products can influence their success

Hiring 'problem directors' can knock up to 64% off firm's value
Problematic 'zombie leadership' lives on in many cases
Younger workers have significantly lower productivity than older
Employees who experienced burnout valued jobs with training opportunities less
Moderate performance goals let workers adapt to turbulent marketplaces, research suggests
 

CRIME

Sandoz pays $265 million for settlement in U.S.

Italy regulator fines Enel unit 79 million euros for telemarketing abuses
Family Dollar fined $42 mln for storing food, drugs in rodent infested warehouse
Former Vitol oil trader convicted of corruption
Three NRA leaders found liable for graft
Linde unit to pay $25.5 mln over claims it defrauded U.S. healthcare programs
 

Magazine

TRAVEL

Experience the thrill of walking across the breathtaking Ruyi Bridge

Share your story in Denver StorySlam in just five minutes
The Garden of Ninfa, Rome's dreamy romantic getaway
Visitors to be welcomed back on Farne Islands
Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden opens
306 Room Tempo by Hilton Nashville Downtown hotel opens
 

SEA, LAND, AIR

Pagani Huayra R Evo, 900 hp from 770 Nm

Embraer Phenom 300E, true force to be reckoned with
Sikorsky S-76D helicopter, for perfect business travel above roads
Porsche Taycan, improved in almost everything
New Ford Explorer is all about exploring
Chevrolet 2025 Equinox is new and refreshed
 

DESIGN

Luxury duvet looks good, fells good and keeps you healthy

Vacheron Constantin, watches for life and more
Schüller kitchens, where functionality marries design
Marc Kaufman Furs, from glory days of Wild West to fashion empire
Kelaghayi scarf, powerful women's fashion symbol from Azerbaijan
Tiffany reimagined their necklace collections in bold style
 

GADGETS

Casette tapes are making a big comeback, and so are portable players

Neumann TLM 103, standard microphone for both voice and music
Epikore Epikore, luxurious loudspeakers you should have
Retro radios with soul for your car
Balanced Audio Technology power amplifier REX 500, 500 watts of solid state
Marantz TT-15S1 turntable, excellent materials and sound
 

HEALTH

Nutraceutical recalls thousands of bottles of mouthwash due to poisoning risk

New microbiome insights could help boost immunotherapy for range of rare cancers
Vaping can increase susceptibility to infection by COVID-19
AstraZeneca's Voydeya treatment recommended for EU approval
GSK gonorrhoea treatment achieves efficacy endpoint in latest trial
Secret, undeclared pesticide ingredients may pose risk to people, pollinators and environment
 

MEANTIME

Scientists discover radiation from massive stars shapes planetary systems

Avian influenza virus adapting to spread to marine mammals
China's first 'ground space station' passes acceptance review
India unveils astronaut-designates for its first human spaceflight
Australian research discovers 8 new Pacific bee species
Significant glacial retreat in West Antarctica began in 1940s