Why do honey bees dance?

Anna Dornhaus, Lars Chittka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

125 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The honey bee dance language, used to recruit nestmates to food sources, is regarded by many as one of the most intriguing communication systems in animals. What were the ecological circumstances that favoured its evolution? We examined this question by creating experimental phenotypes in which the location information of the dances was obscured. Surprisingly, in two temperate habitats, these colonies performed only insignificantly worse than colonies which were able to communicate normally. However, foraging efficiency was substantially impaired in an Asian tropical forest following this manipulation. This indicates that dance language communication about food source locations may be important in some habitats, but not in others. Combining published data and our own, we assessed the clustering of bee forage sites in a variety of habitats by evaluating the bees' dances. We found that the indicated sites are more clustered in tropical than in temperate habitats. This supports the hypothesis that in the context of foraging, the dance language is an adaptation to the particular habitats in which the honey bees evolved. We discuss our findings in relation to spatial aggregation patterns of floral food in temperate and tropical habitats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-401
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume55
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

bee dances
Honey
Bees
honey
bee
Ecosystem
habitat
habitats
Language
Food
food
Communication
foraging
foraging efficiency
communications technology
animal communication
tropical forests
tropical forest
honey bees
Cluster Analysis

Keywords

  • Apis mellifera
  • Dance language
  • Evolution
  • Foraging
  • Orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Why do honey bees dance? / Dornhaus, Anna; Chittka, Lars.

In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Vol. 55, No. 4, 02.2004, p. 395-401.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Dornhaus, Anna ; Chittka, Lars. / Why do honey bees dance?. In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 2004 ; Vol. 55, No. 4. pp. 395-401.
@article{b98b285fd1aa474183ceff4cd4d16471,
title = "Why do honey bees dance?",
abstract = "The honey bee dance language, used to recruit nestmates to food sources, is regarded by many as one of the most intriguing communication systems in animals. What were the ecological circumstances that favoured its evolution? We examined this question by creating experimental phenotypes in which the location information of the dances was obscured. Surprisingly, in two temperate habitats, these colonies performed only insignificantly worse than colonies which were able to communicate normally. However, foraging efficiency was substantially impaired in an Asian tropical forest following this manipulation. This indicates that dance language communication about food source locations may be important in some habitats, but not in others. Combining published data and our own, we assessed the clustering of bee forage sites in a variety of habitats by evaluating the bees' dances. We found that the indicated sites are more clustered in tropical than in temperate habitats. This supports the hypothesis that in the context of foraging, the dance language is an adaptation to the particular habitats in which the honey bees evolved. We discuss our findings in relation to spatial aggregation patterns of floral food in temperate and tropical habitats.",
keywords = "Apis mellifera, Dance language, Evolution, Foraging, Orientation",
author = "Anna Dornhaus and Lars Chittka",
year = "2004",
month = "2",
doi = "10.1007/s00265-003-0726-9",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "55",
pages = "395--401",
journal = "Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology",
issn = "0340-5443",
publisher = "Springer Verlag",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Why do honey bees dance?

AU - Dornhaus, Anna

AU - Chittka, Lars

PY - 2004/2

Y1 - 2004/2

N2 - The honey bee dance language, used to recruit nestmates to food sources, is regarded by many as one of the most intriguing communication systems in animals. What were the ecological circumstances that favoured its evolution? We examined this question by creating experimental phenotypes in which the location information of the dances was obscured. Surprisingly, in two temperate habitats, these colonies performed only insignificantly worse than colonies which were able to communicate normally. However, foraging efficiency was substantially impaired in an Asian tropical forest following this manipulation. This indicates that dance language communication about food source locations may be important in some habitats, but not in others. Combining published data and our own, we assessed the clustering of bee forage sites in a variety of habitats by evaluating the bees' dances. We found that the indicated sites are more clustered in tropical than in temperate habitats. This supports the hypothesis that in the context of foraging, the dance language is an adaptation to the particular habitats in which the honey bees evolved. We discuss our findings in relation to spatial aggregation patterns of floral food in temperate and tropical habitats.

AB - The honey bee dance language, used to recruit nestmates to food sources, is regarded by many as one of the most intriguing communication systems in animals. What were the ecological circumstances that favoured its evolution? We examined this question by creating experimental phenotypes in which the location information of the dances was obscured. Surprisingly, in two temperate habitats, these colonies performed only insignificantly worse than colonies which were able to communicate normally. However, foraging efficiency was substantially impaired in an Asian tropical forest following this manipulation. This indicates that dance language communication about food source locations may be important in some habitats, but not in others. Combining published data and our own, we assessed the clustering of bee forage sites in a variety of habitats by evaluating the bees' dances. We found that the indicated sites are more clustered in tropical than in temperate habitats. This supports the hypothesis that in the context of foraging, the dance language is an adaptation to the particular habitats in which the honey bees evolved. We discuss our findings in relation to spatial aggregation patterns of floral food in temperate and tropical habitats.

KW - Apis mellifera

KW - Dance language

KW - Evolution

KW - Foraging

KW - Orientation

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=1142293894&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=1142293894&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s00265-003-0726-9

DO - 10.1007/s00265-003-0726-9

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:1142293894

VL - 55

SP - 395

EP - 401

JO - Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

JF - Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

SN - 0340-5443

IS - 4

ER -