November 24th, 2010

Bee Dances and Communication

Years ago, I saw a very interesting Moody Science film featuring the Dance of the Bees. Research first analyzed by Martin Lindauer 60 years ago showed that bees actually communicate by doing a type of energetic and vibrating waggle dance. This communicates the direction and the distance to a food source to other bees. (I wondered if they could actually talk but were just having fun doing some kind of charades at a bee party.) 


More recently, the Sept. 27, 2010, New York Times Online Science page, featured a report by Katherine Bouton on further research regarding bee communication which is found in a new book called Honeybee Democracy by Thomas D. Seeley. It adds to the bee dance research. Keep in mind that it is extremely important for their survival to situate their beehive in a safe place. Years of Seeley’s research indicates that the bees make this very important decision of where to locate a new beehive in a group meeting.


When it comes time to split off an over-populated hive, around 100 scout bees have a meeting where they individually report their recommendations for a new beehive building site via a bee-dance. When one of the scouts communicates a superior site, other scouts go out and check it out. If they concur, they come back and do the same dance. When enough scouts all agree, the decision is set and they lead a waiting hoard of bees to the new site to begin work.


Now that’s communication! Those who have gone through planning meetings could likely appreciate the superior decision making process that these sophisticated bees have. To me, this really represents the tremendous design of bees as carefully created by our awesome God. It doesn’t seem to be something that the chance and accidents of evolution could have produced.


By Dave Nutting

original article published:

November/December 2010 Think and Believe

Product Recommendation:

If Animals Could Talk by Dr. Werner Gitt


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