Do honey bees average directions in the waggle dance to determine a flight direction?
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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.
KeywordsApis mellifera Tuned-error-hypothesis Recruitment Communication
Alexis Park provided important assistance with the fieldwork. Richard Redak and John Klotz improved this manuscript with thoughtful comments on drafts. The Academic Senate, the Department of Entomology, and the Graduate Division of the University of California, Riverside, provided financial support.
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