B2 High-Intermediate UK 753 Folder Collection
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Did you know that bees are out there talking to each other right now?
The honeybee performs a waggle and rotation dance to share information about the location
and distance of a nearby point of interest. Let’s say you’re stuck in a beehive, and
your friendly hive busy bee goes out foraging. On her journey she finds a flower full of
powdery pollen. She heads back to tell you and the rest of the hive where this
flower is. How? Distance and direction, my friend.
She makes a waggle run, shaking it back and forth real fast while she kind of walks in
this straight line. When she gets to the end, she turns to the left, circles back to the
start. Waggle run again, now turn to the right, back to the start, waggle run again, turn
to the left… got the idea? Do we really need like a whole electronic bee dance mix?
What’s really cool is that the length of this waggle run varies, and it varies in a
way that’s precisely related to bee travel distance. Closer destination, shorter waggle.
In fact, with every second a waggle run lasts, the bee’s telling you to travel 1km. So,
what, we have kilometers and miles and bees have waggle waggles?
Okay, 1 kilometer, ready to go! But go where? Like a compass, up is the bee’s point of
reference, which is the sun. Up means towards the sun. The angle of the waggle run tells
you where to keep the sun in your sky while you travel. Combine that angle with your distance,
and you’re ready to go! Other info might be actually hiding in this
“shake ’n rotate” routine, like familiarity: experienced bees might pay particular attention
to the smell of a familiar flower coming off the dancer.
Or maybe danger, with the dancer circling around to do fewer waggle runs if the destination
is a dangerous target. If we compare other bees in other parts of
the world, we even find waggle dialects and the possibility of social learning.
That’s a lot to take in, little bee. Click to buzz on over to animal communication, and
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Bee Dance Language - the linguistics behind animal language

753 Folder Collection
Kim Lam Tan published on March 31, 2016
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