The biology of the dance language

Annu Rev Entomol. 2002;47:917-49. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.47.091201.145306.


Honey bee foragers dance to communicate the spatial location of food and other resources to their nestmates. This remarkable communication system has long served as an important model system for studying mechanisms and evolution of complex behavior. I provide a broad synthesis of recent research on dance communication, concentrating on the areas that are currently the focus of active research. Specific issues considered are as follows: (a) the sensory and integrative mechanisms underlying the processing of spatial information in dance communication, (b) the role of dance communication in regulating the recruitment of workers to resources in the environment, (c) the evolution of the dance language, and (d) the adaptive fine-tuning of the dance for efficient spatial communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animal Communication*
  • Animals
  • Bees / physiology*
  • Biological Evolution
  • Forecasting