It is well known that Honey Bees do a "waggle dance" upon returning to the hive. Now scientists Kevin Abbott and Reuven Dukas of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada have found that honeybees use the waggle dance to do more than just encourage others in their colony to visit bountiful flowers.
Tne Scientists placed dead bees upon flowers and then watched how newly arriving bees reacted to the danger. Bees avoid the flowers and then communicate the threat when return to the hive.
The waggle dance is a complex method of communication and was first deciphered over 40 years ago. When foraging bees return to the hive, they waggle their bodies in a complex dance. The angle and direction of the forager bees' waggle dance conveys how far and in what direction other more naive bees need to fly to reach flowers that will provide plentiful sources of food.
The scientists "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.
The scientists then recorded whether/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 than bees returning from dangerous flowers.
The scientists say this shows that bees recognise that some flowers carry a higher risk to bees than others and use this information to warn their fellow colonists from the danger.