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Forage area estimation in European honeybees (Apis mellifera) by automatic waggle decoding of videos using a generic camcorder in field apiaries

  • Satoru OkuboEmail author
  • Aoi Nikkeshi
  • Chisato S. Tanaka
  • Kiyoshi Kimura
  • Mikio Yoshiyama
  • Nobuo Morimoto
Original article


The waggle dances of European honeybees provide important information that can be used to estimate forage areas and identify food resource limitations. However, manually decoding these dances is labor-intensive. This study develops an automatic waggle decoding method applicable to video recordings taken in field apiaries using a generic camcorder with a normal frame rate. Particle image velocimetry was used to detect the typical characteristics of abdominal waggling in bees. We demonstrated our proposed method using video recordings taken at three hives in field apiaries. The decoded information was used to estimate forage area, which was compared against estimates obtained from manual decoding. For all three video recordings, we obtained a 78–87% overlap in the probable forage regions estimated using automatic and manual decoding. Our results suggest that our automatic decoding method is comparable to manual interpretation for the purposes of forage area estimation.


direct cross-correlation forage area probability map image processing PIV Python 



This research was partially supported by grants from the NARO Bio-oriented Technology Research Advancement Institution (Special Scheme Project on Vitalizing Management Entities of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries). We thank Yasuyuki Hasada, Yosuke Hasada, and Nobuyuki Murakami for their generous cooperation in establishing and managing experimental apiaries in Hokkaido. We also thank Yasuhiro Ihara for allowing us to apply a PIV analysis to dancing bees and all of our project members for assisting with data collection.

Author contributions

SO, MY, and KK wrote the paper; SO, AN, and CT prepared and analyzed the data; MY, KK, and NM designed field experiments; SO and KK conceived the research and analytical concept. All the authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest..

Supplementary material

13592_2019_638_MOESM1_ESM.txt (4 kb)
ESM 1. (TXT 4 kb)


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Copyright information

© INRA, DIB and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Agro-environmental SciencesNAROIbarakiJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of TsukubaIbarakiJapan
  3. 3.Institute of Livestock and Grassland ScienceNAROIbarakiJapan

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