Honey bee dance communication: waggle run direction coded in antennal contacts?
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The behaviour of 38 honeybee dance followers and the patterns of antennal contact between followers and dancer were monitored during ten waggle runs for a feeding site 1200 m from the hive. The analysis was restricted to waggle runs with a maximum of 5 followers, allowing the followers to choose between different positions around the dancer. At the beginning of the waggle run, followers are rather evenly spaced around the dancer. During the waggle run, the followers tend to accumulate at the rear end of the dancer. At the end of the waggle run, all followers are found in a ±60° arc behind the dancer. The body orientation angles of the followers depend on their position relative to the dancer. The follower bees have intense antennal contact with the dancer. At least one temporal parameter of the contact pattern may inform the followers about their position relative to the dancer, may guide the dance followers to the rear end of the dancer and may allow them to extract information about the location of the food source advertised by the dance. The role of antennal contact for dance communication appears to have been underestimated in previous studies.
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