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Honeybees' waggle dance is no longer useful in some cultivated landscapes

Bees learn to evaluate the importance of information shared by waggle dances

For bees and other social insects, being able to exchange information is vital for the success of their colony. One way honeybees do this is through their waggle dance, which is a unique pattern of behavior, which probably evolved more than 20 million years ago. A bee's waggle dance tells its sisters in the colony where to find a high-quality source of food. However, in recent years people have begun to study the actual benefits of this dance language.

  1. Researchers found that bee colonies are more successful at collecting food if they are deprived of their dance language. One possible reason may be human-induced habitat change.

  2. The team of biologists was surprised by their result that beehives without the dance information were more active and produced more honey than beehives that used dance language.

  3. By observing the bees, the scientists made the extraordinary discovery that the bees were apparently able to judge the relevance of the information content of a dance and hence would lose interest in disoriented dancing.


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