Monday, May 1, 2017

Can Honeybees Talk?

Animals communicate in many different ways. Some communicate through touch, while others use sounds or smells. With between 20,000-80,000 honeybees per hive, have you ever wondered how honeybees communicate? A hive of honeybees works together so seamlessly and instinctively--their communication process is fascinating! Honeybees communicate using three different methods: dance, vibrations, and pheromones. 

The honeybee uses several different types of dance. One of the dances is called the waggle dance. You can see an example of the waggle dance below. After the honeybee comes into the hive with a full load of nectar and pollen, she uses this dance to tell her sisters what she has found and where it is located. The worker bee will face a certain direction and wiggle at a certain speed during the dance. This will share with the other honeybees the direction of the nectar source, how far it is, and how many honeybees need to go there to collect the nectar. The other bees then follow her directions and find the flowers to forage for the hive. Another dance they use is called the round dance, which tells the bees that the flower source is close to the hive. 

The honeybee also communicates through vibrations and pheromones. Honeybees vibrate their bodies and let off certain smells which tell the other bees in the hive what needs to be done. The queen will send a scent to the queen’s court if she needs to be fed or groomed. She is constantly communicating with the worker bees through vibrations and smell. The worker bees will also communicate to other worker bees if the baby bees need to be feed or if the hive needs to be cooled. By vibrating and letting off pheromone smells, the other bees know exactly what is needed throughout the dark and crowded hive. 

Even though honeybees cannot talk like you and me, they are still able to communicate beautifully. It’s remarkable to see them use dance, vibrations, and pheromones to live in harmony and work together. What an amazing insect!