Saturday, May 28, 2005

What a great name for a book.

Dancing Bees Speak in Code

Michael Schirber

Scientists have long marveled over the dance of the bee. A little jitterbug seems to reveal to coworkers the location of a distant meal. But how and whether the dance really works has remained controversial.

A new study confirms the dancing is a form of communication.

Bees outfitted with tracking devices responded to the wiggling of one of their fellow foragers, who had just returned to the hive from some newfound bee vittles. The dance, which is performed on one of the honeycomb walls, is not an exact language, but it gets the job done.

The central element of the choreography is a shimmy, or waggle, along a straight line. For emphasis, the bee repeats this move several times by circling around in a figure-8 pattern. The angle that the shimmy makes in relation to an imaginary vertical line is the direction to the food source with respect to the sun.

(snip)

rest here.