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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 youre 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 leftgot 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 youre ready to go! Other info might be actually hiding in this

  • shake ’n rotateroutine, 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

  • don’t forget to subscribe for language!

Did you know that bees are out there talking to each other right now?

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B2 UK bee distance flower hive dancer varies

Bee Dance Language - the linguistics behind animal language

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    Kim Lam Tan posted on 2016/03/31
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