The waggle dance is a particular figure-eight dance of the honey bee. By performing this dance, successful foragers communicate information to colony members about the direction and distance to new food sources. In 1940, professor Karl von Frisch was one of the first who translated the meaning of the waggle dance, experiments carried out by Karl von Frisch proved honey bees communicate by waggle dance.
The waggle dance
The dance consists of 2 fundamental abilities – to see ultra violet light and polarized light – this allows the bees to determine location of sun at all times. Sunlight passes through the atmosphere and is polarized towards the sun when viewed from ground this forms the bee’s solar compass and helps them to know the position of the sun in the sky which helps guide them in the correct direction. The bees also have an internal body clock which accurately estimates position of the sun as it travels across the sky.
The dance is separated into two sections, the figure eight pattern (orientation of dance) and central waggle section. The orientation of dance describes what angle to travel from the sun. The direction up (opposite to gravity) substitutes for the location of sun then the angle the bee dances compared to the up direction is the angle a bee should fly away from the sun in order to find the new food source. So if a bee dances directly in an upwards direction, this tells other bees that the food source is found by flying directly towards sun and if the bee dances 90 degree to the left then other bees should fly 90 degrees to the left of the sun.
The central waggle section communicates the distance to the new food source, if this section is performed longer this means food is further away and if the bee spends a shorter time performing this section, this means the new food source is closer.
Waggle-dancing bees produce and release pheromones into the air. This may be a way of communicating additional information such as abundance and quality of food.The pollen attached to its legs provides a scent cue for others bees to follow.
These findings are so exciting that they were initially met with significant skepticism and controversy. Eventually the controversy was settled, with scientists recognizing that there is much evidence that honeybees really do communicate and act on the information encoded in the waggle dance, even though uncertainty remains regarding exactly which signals (odor, vibrations, air flows, etc.) the observing bees use to interpret the dance into information regarding the food location.
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