Wow, I Had No Idea Bee Communication Was So Complex!

Bee communication is far more complex than most people think. These highly social insects have developed a remarkable means of sharing information about food sources. Called a waggle dance, this amazing bit of choreographed movement is performed by a scout bee to tell the rest of colony where to locate nectar.

As North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service reports, when a scout bee finds a good food source, she flies back to the hive to share her find with the foragers. Through her movements, the bee relays precise information about the location of the nectar source, including its distance from the colony. The longer the dance lasts, the further away the nectar lies. In addition, the angle of the bee’s movements reflects the flower’s direction in relationship to the sun. Through the dance, the bee can pinpoint the location of flowers up to 6 kilometers away.

According to The Guardian, the meaning of the waggle dance was first discovered in 1973 by Nobel Prize winner Karl von Frisch. The encoded information relayed by the waggle dance reveals the depth and specificity of bee communication.

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