The flight paths of honeybees recruited by the waggle dance

Nature. 2005 May 12;435(7039):205-7. doi: 10.1038/nature03526.


In the 'dance language' of honeybees, the dancer generates a specific, coded message that describes the direction and distance from the hive of a new food source, and this message is displaced in both space and time from the dancer's discovery of that source. Karl von Frisch concluded that bees 'recruited' by this dance used the information encoded in it to guide them directly to the remote food source, and this Nobel Prize-winning discovery revealed the most sophisticated example of non-primate communication that we know of. In spite of some initial scepticism, almost all biologists are now convinced that von Frisch was correct, but what has hitherto been lacking is a quantitative description of how effectively recruits translate the code in the dance into flight to their destinations. Using harmonic radar to record the actual flight paths of recruited bees, we now provide that description.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Communication*
  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Bees / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Flight, Animal / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Odorants
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Smell / physiology
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology
  • Wind