Begging for Information

Honey bee

Honey bee

Forager bees collect nectar from flowers and return to the hive to communicate the location and quality of a food source by means of a waggle dance. The waggle dance recruits other foragers who learn the location of the food by the direction of the dance steps. The recruits learn more about the quality of the food when a waggle dancer regurgitates small amounts of food for the recruits to sample. The recruits can signal the dancer by pressing their thorax to the comb and using their thoracic muscles to vibrate the comb in an idiosyncratic manner.*  Bees detect the sound through vibration of the comb.  Human sensors can detect the vibration in the comb and a sound that travels through the air.  The sound produced by the recruits is sometimes described as “begging” because the sound results in the waggle dancer depositing a food sample.

*WH Kirchner.  1993. Acoustical communication in honeybees. Apidologie 24: 297-307.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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