Honeybees Warn Others of Risks

Posted on August 9, 2009  Comments (5)

Honeybees warn of risky flowers

They trained honeybees to visit two artificial flowers containing the same amount and concentration of food. They left one flower untouched, making it a “safe” food source for the bees.

On the other flower, they placed the bodies of two dead bees, so they were visible to arriving insects, but would not interfere with their foraging. They then recorded whether and how the bees performed a waggle dance on their return to other members of the hive colony.

On average, bees returning from safe flowers performed 20 to 30 times more waggle runs that bees returning from dangerous flowers.

That shows that the bees recognise that certain flowers carry a higher risk of being killed or eaten by predators, such as crab spiders or other spider species that ambush visiting bees.

Related: Scientists Search for Clues To Bee MysteryThe Study of Bee Colony Collapses Continues

5 Responses to “Honeybees Warn Others of Risks”

  1. Anonymous
    August 11th, 2009 @ 11:57 pm

    I think that in general there are many species that are far smarter than they might seem from initially looking at them. This is a perfect example of where we see how evolution might not have given the bee’s some version of cognitive thought to be able to figure out what’s going on, but it definitely gave them the instincts.

  2. Rich Wooger
    August 14th, 2009 @ 9:26 am

    I always know that honeybees are clever insects, however, this interesting fact was a news for me. Hope that it will become a good topic for numerous research papers.

  3. Wayne
    August 16th, 2009 @ 11:54 pm

    It would seem that we could learn a lot from some “inferior” species. Given a warning of danger the bees avoid it. We plaster alcohol, tobacco and fast food with warning labels and negative advertising and other information and we stand in line to purchase that very product. Which one really is the inferior species?

  4. Wink
    August 20th, 2009 @ 6:55 pm

    Aren’t honeybees the ones that engineers are convinced cannot fly because they defy our laws of aeronautics? But since the bees can’t read, they fly anyway? We have so much to learn from nature if we only put our arrogance aside.

  5. How Bee Hives Make Decisions » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    February 28th, 2012 @ 7:10 am

    [...] Honeybees Warn Others of Risks – Wasps Used to Detect Explosives – Study of the Colony Collapse Disorder Continues as [...]

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