Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 343-354

First online:

The waggle dance of the honey bee: Which bees following a dancer successfully acquire the information?

  • Timothy M. JuddAffiliated withSection of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University

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During the waggle dance of the honeybee, the dancer is able to tell her nestmates the distance and direction to a rich food source (Frisch, 1967). Little is known about how waggle dance followers are able to read the waggle dance in the darkness of a hive. Initial observations showed that not all of the bees that appear to be dance followers behave the same. Some bees maneuver themselves behind the dancer, while others do not. The paths of a single dancer, trained to an artificial food source, and her followers were traced during the waggle runs. The success of these dance followers was compared to their position relative to the dancer. The results of this study show that during a waggle run a dance follower must position itself within a 30° arc behind the dancer in order to obtain the dance information. The results suggest that bees are using the position of their own bodies to determine direction.

Key words

Apis mellifera honey bee waggle dance recruitment communication