Does the waggle dance help honey bees to forage at greater distances than expected for their body size?

Ratnieks, Francis L W and Shackleton, Kyle (2015) Does the waggle dance help honey bees to forage at greater distances than expected for their body size? Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 3 (31). ISSN 2296-701X

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Abstract

A honey bee colony has been likened to an oil company. Some members of the company or colony prospect for valuable liquid resources. When these are discovered other group members can be recruited to exploit the resource. The recruitment of nestmates to a specific location where there is a patch of flowers should change the economics of scouting, that is, the search for new resource patches. In particular, communication is predicted to make scouting at longer distances worthwhile because a profitable resource patch, once discovered, will enhance the foraging not only of the discoverer but also of nestmates that can be directed to the patch. By virtue of having large colonies and dance communication, honey bees are predicted to be able to profitably scout, and hence forage, at greater distances from the nest than either solitary bees or social bees without communication. We test this hypothesis by first examining existing data on foraging distance to evaluate whether honey bees do indeed forage at greater distances than other bees given their body size. Second, we present a simple cost-benefit analysis of scouting which indicates that communication causes longer range scouting to be more profitable. Overall, our analyses are supportive, but not conclusive, that honey bees forage further than would be expected given their size and that the waggle dance is a cause of the honey bee's exceptional foraging range.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH0301 Biology > QH0540 Ecology
Q Science > QL Zoology > QL0360 Invertebrates > QL0434 Arthropoda > QL0463 Insects > QL0563 Hymenoptera > QL0568.A-Z Systematic divisions. By family, A-Z > QL0568.A6 Apidae (Honeybees, etc.)
Depositing User: Kyle Shackleton
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2015 15:00
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2017 02:20
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/53591

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
2012 Doctoral Training Grant (NERC)G0941NERC-NATURAL ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH COUNCILNE/K501347/1