Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Creative Communication!

Communication is important in all relationships. Humans communicate with one another on a regular basis to share information and thoughts. This communication is important in helping people bond with one another. Some forms of communication include speech, sign language, body language, and facial expressions. Did you know that honey bees communicate with each other as well? Honey bees live in large colonies, with an average of 40,000 to 60,000 bees in each hive – you can imagine how important communication is in such a large family!

The Path of a Waggle Dance
Honey bees use several different means of communication, with the most popular being dancing. Honey bees perform a specific dance in order to share the location of a food supply with the other bees in colony so that they, too, can gather food from that area. To perform the dance, a bee will walk forward, waggling her body from side to side. Then, she walks normally in a half circle and starts on the path again, waggling her body. The distance forward that the bee walks, the speed of her waggling, and the direction she is facing provide incredibly accurate directions to the other bees, who then go and collect the food. The directions are based off of the location of the sun, which the bees can sense even inside the dark hive.

Bees release pheromones to communicate important information, such as
if the queen is present in the hive or if there are intruders in the hive. The
other bees respond appropriately to the messages from these pheromones.
Another form of communication is the release of pheromones. Pheromones are distinct smells that the bees release to convey messages. The queen releases a special pheromone that helps the bees sense that she is in the hive and healthy. Worker bees also release pheromones. Guard bees, who protect the beehive from intruders, release a special alarm pheromone whenever there is an invader. This pheromone smells like ripe bananas!

Just as people communicate in different ways, so do honey bees. Communication allows the members of the colony to bond and to help one another, making the entire hive stronger. Communication - whether through speech, sign language, dancing, or pheromones – plays an important role in daily life. How do you communicate?

To see a bee perform a waggle dance, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lhVBNQ-Ik8

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