Communication of honey bees plays a key role in bees life.
There are mainly 2 main ways through which honey bees communicate:
1. The pheromone activity.
2. The waggle dance.
The Pheromone activity
Queen release a chemical called pheromone to attract drones. Other pheromone released help other bees in:
- Helping the community to recognize queen.
- Reducing the amount of egg laying by worker bees.
- To keep bees together through swarming while forming a new colony.
For communication with other bees in hive, Worker bees also produce different types of pheromones which helps in:
- Fanning their wings in order to cool down the hive.
- To stay close while swarming.
- For making an alarm sound when an invader is near the hive.
When a bee stings a detected invader, the venom attracts other bees, inducing them to sting in the exact same place.
The Waggle Dance
The waggle dance is a unique, figure-eight dance. The figure-eight pattern is comprised of a straight run followed by a gradual turn to the right, after which the bee circles back to the starting point; another straight run, followed by a turn and circle to the left, and so on in a regular alternation. Through this forager bee can direct other hive members :
- Towards good locations for collecting vital community resources.
- To important water resources.
- To the distance and direction of patches of flowers yielding nectar and pollen.
The waggle dance involves a number of highly complex activities:
1) The forager bee locates a rich flower patch,suck some nectar, and flies home.
2) She crawls onto the vertical combs near the nest entrance and dances for up to several minutes.
3) Forager performs dance in middle of closely packed adjacent bees, consists of running through a small figure-eight pattern repeatedly.
4) Straight run is informative portion of dance. The dancer (forager bee) vigorously vibrates (waggles) her abdomen back and forth laterally, emitting strong substrate and airborne vibrations.
5) The bee’s flight muscles produce the buzzing sound. It has a frequency range between 200-300 cycles per second.
6) A new recruit may attend several such dances before she leaves the colony to locate food.
7) The direction and duration of straight runs directed by forager bee and the direction and distance of the flower patch are closely correlated with each other.
8) The waggle straight runs in upward direction on vertical combs represents location of flowers directly in line with the sun. corresponding angle to the right or left of vertical codes the any angle to the right or left of the sun’s position.
9) The angle between vertical and the straight waggling run of the dance is equal to the angle between the sun and the flight direction from hive to food source.
10) The duration of the straight runs codes the distance between the beehive and target plant, since this is the feature of the dance that exhibits the highest correlation with distance to the goal. As a result, the farther the target, the longer the straight runs, with a rate of increase of about 75 milliseconds per 100 meters.²
In addition to these movements, dancing bees also communicate floral odors that stick to their setae and waxy cuticle.