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Author Topic: Deciphering the bee dance  (Read 994 times)
thestrawberrythief
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« on: June 23, 2011, 07:20:06 PM »

Is the bee dance still seen as being a form of communication between bees?
Surely the dance is only a by product of some other process that we may not under stand.
I try to wonder what a bee dance would look like from another bees perspective.
How could a dance be viewed  by another bee on the same comb?
It would be dark and there would be other bees obstructing the view.
Any rhythmic noise would be drowned out by the crowed
The viewing bees could not see the size of the circle being danced or determine any angles as suggested.
Its like a "Mexican wave" ,the people doing it can only see a few people on either side but the people watching
on TV get to see it form a different perspective and it looks totally different.
Maybe the dancing bee is  drawing a map and marking the comb. Do other bees retrace the steps made?
Greg.
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caticind
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« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2011, 10:47:45 PM »

Yes, they are communicating.  Certainly it is not complex or free form communication, but it is a simple and consistent method of giving specific information, i.e. where is the nectar and how much is there?

The waggle dance is bee math, specifically, it is a vector (direction, distance) plus an assessment of quality.  The waggle is felt, not seen, by adjacent bees on the comb.  The closest bees follow the dancer around to track her.   Direction is given by the angle of deviation from vertical.  Distance by the length covered while waggling.  The better the forage source, the more times the bee repeats her dance and the more other bees happen by and take up following it, picking up the vibrations in their antennae and feet.

All the bees need to translate the dance into the vector is a sense of gravity and an internal sun clock.  Very simple and very elegant.  You can find videos via google or by searching this forum that will explain the experiments done to "crack the code".
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The bees would be no help; they would tumble over each other like golden babies and thrum wordlessly on the subjects of queens and sex and pollen-gluey feet. -Palimpsest
stella
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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2011, 11:37:31 PM »

As a new beekeeper it was the most exciting thing I saw this spring while inspecting my hive. I had read about it and was absolutely amazed to see it happening! Half circle dance and a waggle down the middle, back up the other side and waggle down the middle. I have read the bee doing the dance will hand out tastes of the nectar it has found.
I cant believe the things I didnt know before I had bees. I was really missin the boat!
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“The hum of bees is the voice of the garden.” — Elizabeth Lawrence
JoanneMarie
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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2011, 11:53:48 PM »

Check out this video on YouTube:

Dancing Honeybee Using Vector Calculus to Communicate


Joanne
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Joanne Marie
thestrawberrythief
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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2011, 03:23:01 AM »

So if the beekeeper turns  the brood box around 90 or 180 degrees all the bees would not be able to find the nectar source,
or at least until another bee comes back a with a new dance.
The videos are great for us humans and we can see what seems to be happening as a whole but I feel the bees cannot see it as we do.
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T Beek
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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2011, 06:03:24 AM »

One of the most important things a beekeeper should always remember is that bees are not human, so whenever comparing the two its best not to place too much humanity into bees, they're so much better than that grin

Just because we don't understand something..................(see below).  Of course bees don't see things the way humans do, that would be pretty awful (think about it).

thomas
« Last Edit: June 24, 2011, 11:55:39 AM by T Beek » Logged

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indypartridge
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« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2011, 06:38:44 AM »

So if the beekeeper turns  the brood box around 90 or 180 degrees all the bees would not be able to find the nectar source,
or at least until another bee comes back a with a new dance.
Yes, they would, because, as "caticind" said, the dance communicates direction and distance. So if the direction is "East" and the distance is "1000 yards", the direction of the hive opening is irrelevant.

Quote
The videos are great for us humans and we can see what seems to be happening as a whole but I feel the bees cannot see it as we do.
Exactly right - the bees don't see the dance, they feel it.
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caticind
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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2011, 10:53:19 AM »

Right, direction is given in "degrees away from the current direction of the sun", where a dance directly opposite gravity (up the comb) means "towards where the sun is now".  It's even better than saying "East" because all of the bees have an internal sun clock and know where the sun is even when they are inside the hive and cannot see it.  There is no reference to the hive (i.e. they are not saying "out of the hive, take a left at the pine tree...."), so rotating the hive will not confuse them.

They have run experiments delaying foragers from leaving after they have followed a dance, and in both cases bees correct for the sun's movement over elapsed time even though they could not see it.  When a bee dances for the same food source multiple times over the course of the day, the direction of its dance slowly rotates to always give the correct angle with regard to the sun.

Of course they don't "see" it the way we do, but that's not the point.  Bees are pretty simple, neurologically, and are so different from humans that the same categories often don't apply.  But in the particular fields important for bees (like vector math, aerodynamics, and the traveling salesman problem) they are effectively brilliant.  Often much better than humans or even our computers.
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The bees would be no help; they would tumble over each other like golden babies and thrum wordlessly on the subjects of queens and sex and pollen-gluey feet. -Palimpsest
Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2011, 10:57:38 PM »

In relation to the bee dance, the top of the comb/frame is always North and the front of the hive is always West.  This corresponds with Caticind's well put discription. 
In the Southern Hemisphere the top of the comb would be South and the front of the hive would still be West.
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Life is a school.  What have you learned?   Brian      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!
stella
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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2011, 10:50:31 PM »

Thank you Joanne for the video! Very informative!
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“The hum of bees is the voice of the garden.” — Elizabeth Lawrence
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