Bees abandon dance as language – Quartz


Some bees, about 10 out of 500 species, speak the dance. That is, they wave their hive comrades for a few seconds to five minutes, using social language that has evolved over more than 20 million years to convey information on the location of food sources. Or they did it.

New research shows that the current buzzword for these industrious creatures is "efficiency". Bees ignore and give up dances and humans can be the source of change.

A study of scientific advances by biologists from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany examined the "movement dance" and its benefits to Apis mellifera, a species of bee. This dance communicates to the companions the location, smells and presence of high quality food or nesting sites. Researchers were therefore expecting hives deprived of dance experiences to suffer from it, producing less honey.

Instead, they discovered something unexpected: some dancing bees lose their rhythm and, when they do, communities get better, collecting more food and making more food. honey, faster.

The classic bee communication mode, the waggle dance, is replaced by what appears to be a more practical but less poetic approach to survival. Instead of looking at the trolley dances for clues about good food sources, some honey bees simply went out and looked for food independently. Biologists believe that human changes in the environment could make the old form of exchange irrelevant.

They tested eight colonies of honey bees and filmed hives where about 15,000 to 25,000 worker bees worked for about nine days. Some hives worked as usual. Others were deprived of waggle-dance messages – hives were darkened and their orientation changed to confuse bees, so the information sent by the dancers was hard to discern and foolish.

Scientists analyzed video footage of hives and measured the amount of honey produced by colonies, in what amount of flight time. witness the little time spent watching the dancers. "[O]At the time, bees exposed to disoriented dances were less interested in the dance of the breeders …[and] wasted no time waiting for information, "notes the study.

In other words, the bees quickly adapted to change and learned to ignore language that did not provide anything useful to find where to find food. They simply went for food, ending up with a lot more honey than bees using dance data.

Biologists argue that their experience could help explain the effect of human activity on the behavior of bees. They note that masses of man-planted flowering plants are easy to find for honey bees and take advantage of them in the spring, but are harder to find once flowering is over. According to researchers, dancing in harsh environments with few valuable food sources may not be worth the effort, and could cause bees to abandon their old language. Their paper "raises[s] the possibility that the human impact may have created landscapes and time periods to which the "dance language" of the honey bee is not well adapted ".

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