Honeybees decode the waggle dance by applying simple maths

October 6th, 2008 - 6:15 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Oct 6 (ANI): Honeybees do a waggle dance to guide other hive-mates towards nectar-rich flowers, and scientists have now revealed that the bees in the hive actually apply maths to deduce the direction, according to a new study.

In an experiment, David Tanner and Kirk Visscher from the University of California, Riverside, have shown that bees trained to visit artificial sugar-traps flew off in a direction that more closely matched the mean angle of several waggles, instead of flying on the angle of any one waggle

“Bees apparently keep a mental log of the directions indicated in the dance. I find it remarkable that, with a relatively simple brain, they can do something so mathematically complex,” New Scientist magazine quoted Tanner as saying.

According to Tom Seeley at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, who has studied several aspects of honeybee societies, the study has shown convincing results.

But, he added, its not just the waggle that the honeybees use for deciding their flight direction.

He suggested that they might also take their cue from bees returning to the hive, “for example by orienting to the flights of these bees as they flew to or from the feeder”. (ANI)

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