Study Shows Honey Bees Teach Younger Bees How To Dance

Study Shows Honey Bees Teach Younger Bees How To Dance

Honey bees are a key part of the ecosystem as they work as pollinators and help keep the planet healthy. Scientists have studied honey bees extensively and learned a lot about how their hives work and how they communicate, but there's always been a puzzling piece of the story: the waggle dance.

You've probably heard of the waggle dance before, it's a form of communication between bees that's long been a mystery. However, a new study may have cracked the code to the funny dance moves!

The new study, titled "Social signal learning of the waggle dance in honey bees," was published in the journal Science and talks about the "waggle dance" that bees use as a form of communication.

The little dance bees use works to inform other bees about where resources are located. The dance has been well-documented, but up until now, it wasn't clear how the bees learned the dance moves.

According to the study, researchers were able to determine that older bees actually teach the younger bees the dance moves! They found that "correct waggle dancing requires social learning."

Study author James Nieh said in a press release: "We are beginning to understand that, like us, animals can pass down information important for their survival through communities and families. Our new research shows that we can now extend such social learning to include insects."

Researchers observed and tested colonies for the sole purpose of learning about the waggle dance. They discovered that bees who had dance "tutors" performed and communicated well, whereas unschooled insects performed "more disordered dances with larger waggle angle divergence errors and encoded distance incorrectly."

The study concluded, "Social learning, therefore, shapes honey bee signaling, as it does communication in human infants, birds, and multiple other vertebrate species."

Malorie Thompson

Malorie works as a writer and editor in Northern California. She's passionate about food, conscious living, animal welfare, and conservation. She's worked with a variety of publications in different sectors but is happiest covering topics close to her heart. When not at her laptop, Malorie can be found enjoying picnics on the beach, hiking in the redwoods, and spending time with her rescue pup, Jax.

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