The Meaning Behind the Honey Bee Waggle Dance

Posted by Stacey Venzel
Elixir of Knowledge
Elixir of Knowledge

Twerking is no match for the honey bee waggle dance.

For all you beekeepers-in-training, you might be wondering why your bees are popping and locking it like it’s hot. In fact, the booty-shaking of these buzzing insects is actually quite lyrical.

When the foragers of a hive return from a productive search for nectar, they immediately bust out their break-dancing skills on the honeycomb floor. Each circuit of the routine follows a figure eight pattern. The wiggle-waggle in between the paired loops relays the angle of the sun in direction to the source of nectar.

Yeah, that’s right. Bees are smart.

Check out the dance moves of these Beyonce-wanna-bees.

The longer the dance, the further the nectar is from the hive. For example, every 75 milliseconds counts as 330 feet away. Combined with the intensity of the choreography, a bee communicates the value of the nectar.

So, if a honey bee busts out Lorde’s dance moves alongside the musical score of “American Pie,” he is telling his hivemates the nectar is far away and it ain’t that good.

Prevent Disease
Prevent Disease

But honey bees don’t stop impressing us there. They also bring free samples of flower smells on their antennae to hand out to the hive.

Honeybees have two more dances in their repertoire: the shake and the tremble. Sounds a lot like they aspire to learn the shake, rattle and roll.

If you’ve got a beehive, try videoing the waggle dance. Can you calculate what flower source they are using to make honey?

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The Meaning Behind the Honey Bee Waggle Dance