Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 62, Issue 12, pp 1891–1898

Do honey bees average directions in the waggle dance to determine a flight direction?

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-008-0619-z

Cite this article as:
Tanner, D.A. & Visscher, P.K. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2008) 62: 1891. doi:10.1007/s00265-008-0619-z


The waggle dance of the honey bee is a recruitment behavior used to communicate the location of a resource to a nest mate. There is, however, significant imprecision communicating the direction across waggle runs in a single dance. In this study, we ask whether honey bee recruits determine the direction of their flight based on an average of many waggle runs, or on a single waggle run. We show that the distribution of recruit flight directions is narrower than the distribution of directions indicated in the dance. We also show that there is a better fit between observed flight directions and the prediction of a multiple-waggle-run-averaging model than a last-waggle-run or other single-waggle-run models. These findings substantially weaken hypotheses about the adaptive nature of imprecision in honey bee recruitment.


Apis melliferaTuned-error-hypothesisRecruitmentCommunication

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUtah State UniversityLoganUSA