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The Honey Bee Dance Language
Transcript of The Honey Bee Dance Language
Types of Dances
Wag-tail dance (Figure-Eight)
Why Do Honey Bees Dance?
richness (sugar content)
richness (sugar content)
direction (direction in relation to sun/gravity)
Do the Dances Convey Information?
Is it a Language?
Our Groups Opinion
future nesting site
A Honey Bee will only dance for food:
if sugar content is more than 10%
after taking at least 2 trips to the food source
Honey Bees prefer water with organic matter
because it allows them to communicate the
smell of the water source.
Transitional Dance between Round and Wagtail Dances
Performed by only certain species of honey bees (example: German)
Ranges is between 90 and 110yards
response to being dirty
elicit assistance from sisters
Opening of sickle dance is direction of food
Do Honey Bees Really Have a Dance Language?
Conventionalized system of communication
1. “A systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings” -
2. “Communication of thoughts and feelings through a system of arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols.” -
The Free Dictionary 1a
Language Defined strictly to Humans:
1. “Communication by voice in the distinctively human manner, using arbitrary sounds in conventional ways with conventional meanings” -
2. "The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way."-
Shaking of the body rapidly to the right and left
Raises her middle legs in order to comb her thoracic hairs
Bee then approaches and cleans the hairy coat on the petiole and the root of the wings
1. “Any nonverbal method of expression or communication” -
2. “The means by which animals communicate” -
"A system of symbols and rules for writing programs or algorithms." -
Shakes body back and forth and turns 50 degrees as she walks across the comb
Informs hive to switch to nectar processing
Signals to other forager bee to stop further recruitment
Dance lasts about 30 minutes
Definition of Dance language:
a term used by von Frisch (‘Tanzsprache’) to denote a series of repetitive waggle movements performed by successful foragers conveying information about the direction and distance of food sources or nest sites (Figure 1). Here, the word ‘language’ does not imply the use of a set of symbols and a system of grammar.
The honey bee dance is a language
It does not rise to the level of human language
because it systematically communicates information
What do our professors think?
because it does not go beyond utility and behavioral response
The gestural aspects of the honey bee dance systematically communicate information about the location of the food source, which other bees must translate into behavior. Cognitive function is not a requirement, and the bee dance language exists on a spectrum with human language.
A language must be able to communicate thoughts and feelings as opposed to eliciting a behavioral response. The bee dance contains no written aspect, no cognitive function to communicate ideas, and no words for syntax and semantics.
We interviewed 5 professors from physics, biology, engineering, and English.
Jillian De Gezelle, Plant Biology
“It is clear that bees communicate, so I suppose that would be a form of language...however, I would suspect that the level of language they have developed meets their needs. In other words, they are able to communicate what they need to. I would say bee language is more like human body language than human verbal language.”
Sheryl Cornett, English
“I would say it probably, in a mysterious way, comes close...cognitive function, when we associate cognition and language for example, I would have to see some more data and research on that. But I can accept the mystery that it is a complicated dance of language that comes close to what we would call the power of language.”
Stephen Reynolds, Physics
Hasan Jameel, Engineering
Michael Grimwood, English
Dennis L. Johnson (1967)
"Communication among Honey Bees with Field Experience"
Christoph Grüter and Walter M. Farina (2009)
"The Honeybee Waggle Dance: Can Follow the Steps?"
"If recruits use the direction of the dance, they fail to do so with the precision suggested by the original experiments."
"The 'dance language' is just one information component of the waggle dance...location information is often backup information to be used in case information acquired directly from the environment about food sources is not available, is of poor quality or is associated with unprofitable food sources."
of all foragers with private about the location of a good food source ignored the dance language
Drunken Sailor Hypothesis
Explains inaccuracies of step experiment
A sailor looking for a bar will wander into the first one he finds to save time
Dancing may simply trigger bees to
forage with their private information
"Experienced bees which attend dancers are recruited to the source at which they had earlier success and not necessarily to locations indicated by the dance information"
Anna Dornhaus and Lars Chittka (2004)
"Why Do Honey Bees Dance?"
Differences in distribution of food sources affect the efficiency of the dance communication for foraging success
"The honey bee dance language is an adaptation to the tropical conditions under which the genus Apis diversified, and may no longer be essential for efficient foraging in some temperate habitats"
Habitat effects the necessity of the dance, indicating that information is conveyed in some locations