, Volume 74, Issue 11, pp 2600-2621

A Mathematical Model for Flight Guidance in Honeybee Swarms

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When a colony of honeybees relocates to a new nest site, less than 5 % of the bees (the scout bees) know the location of the new nest. Nevertheless, the small minority of informed bees manages to provide guidance to the rest and the entire swarm is able to fly to the new nest intact. The streaker bee hypothesis, one of the several theories proposed to explain the guidance mechanism in bee swarms, seems to be supported by recent experimental observations. The theory suggests that the informed bees make high-speed flights through the swarm in the direction of the new nest, hence conspicuously pointing to the desired direction of travel. This work presents a mathematical model of flight guidance in bee swarms based on the streaker bee hypothesis. Numerical experiments, parameter studies, and comparison with experimental data are presented.