Like most insects, bees don’t have ears, in fact they can’t hear at all. But this doesn’t mean you can sneak up on a bee, they know you are there because of vibrations. So how does a bee communicate?
Bees love to dance and dancing is a way for them to talk to one another. It was Austrian zoologist, Karl von Frisch, who first discovered the dance “language” of bees. Up close and personal with the bees, Frisch had observed a forager bee, on discovering a flower, return to the nest and perform a dance for its fellow workers.
Closer observation led to the discovery of a series of dance moves performed by bees to communicate to the nest the location of food sources. Here are a few dance moves. A vigorous figure-eight dance means a flower is nearby. A less than enthusiastic tail-wag dance means food is far away. If the bee points it’s body vertically up, the flowers are in the direction of the sun if it points its body down, the flowers are away from the sun.
If a bee dances with its body at a specific angle, that is the degree (from the sun) to which the other worker bees must leave the nest to find the food source. The bee dance can also be used to inform the colony of predators, the location of a new home, or imminent threats. So remember, if you harass or disturb a bee, it may fly back to its nest and have a big dance about you.
You can’t afford to be a bad dancer in a bee colony!