Scientists uncovered a secret language made by bees when they try to communicate the location of their high-value flower patches to one another. Scientists refer to it as “waggle dances.”
After observing more than 1,500 bees doing the “waggle dance,” a group of US biologists explained that those jigs are more than bees communicating with one another, rather it is their own way of boosting the imperiled species’ population.
“The thing I think is the most interesting about bees is their communication,” Morgan Carr-Markell, a PhD student from the University of Minnesota and lead author of the study that had been published in the journal PLOS One, told AFP in an interview.
“So I wanted to be able to use that to help land managers who are interested in planting for bees, and give them on-the-ground information,” she said.
The researchers were looking to answer two important questions: 1. What type of flowers do they seek for pollen and nectar, and 2. When do they engage in most of their foraging activity?
They placed bee colonies in glass-walled observation hives at the Belwin Conservancy and Carleton College’s Cowling Arboretum in Minnesota. The researchers decoded and mapped the flowers that the bees signaled in 1,528 waggle dances.
“Honey bees were more likely to communicate with their sisters about nectar sources in prairies in the later part of the foraging season,” Carr-Markell said, and explained further that it was in between the month of August and September.
The team was also curious about the type of flowers the bees were excited about.
“We can actually say for sure that seven different native prairie groups were advertised by our bees as really good pollen sources,” said Carr-Markell, indicating that it included goldenrods and prairie clovers.
Bees are important in growing food as they fertilize three out of four crops around the world. Recent report showed that the US honey bee population declined by 40 percent between April 2018 and 2019 as the species is threatened by pathogens, parasites and pesticides.
“If the colonies are well nourished, they’re better able to deal with pesticides and pathogens – they’re better able to deal with every other stressor,” she added.
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