A comprehensive honey bee dance and odour ‘language’ hypothesis

publication date: Sep 15, 2009
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Bee World  Vol. 81 (1) 2000 pp.  5 - 10
DOI 
Article Title

A comprehensive honey bee dance and odour ‘language’ hypothesis

Author(s)

Barry J Donovan

Abstract

The honey bee dance language hypothesis proposed by Karl von Frisch claims that a honey bee can indicate the direction and distance of a new food source through a ‘dance’ in the hive. Bees then fly directly to the food source. However an alternative hypothesis expounded by Adrian Wenner is that these bees search only for odour plumes. My hypothesis is that the dance contains information about the ecological reality in which bees exist which has hitherto not been recognized and which is utilized by bees to maximize their foraging success. If a new, desirable source of food appears, other new locations of the same source are more than likely to soon appear. Some bees that follow the dance may use the distance and direction information to avoid the known location, in order to search in other directions for new locations of the new food source which they will find by following odour plumes. The colony can thus most quickly both exploit the known location and, find and exploit new locations of the same food.

Keywords Dance, odour, language
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