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Honey Bees communicate the Source, Productiveness, Direction, and Distance,
of forage from the hive by using a unique Waggle Dance.
Pheromones secreted by the bees results in a specific behavioral response in
the individual bee and sometimes the entire hive.
Honey Bees use a set of compound eyes for polarized light vision, and three
Ocelli eyes located on top of her head for light sensitivity.
Honey Bees use body hairs, and specialized Receptors to perceive their
environment .
• Bees have two spherical
shaped Compound Eyes to
distinguish high contrast
shapes and patterns.
• The Honey Bee also has
three eyes located in the top
of its head called Ocelli.
These eyes are believed
used for navigation, and are
useful to the bee in varying
light conditions.
• A bees compound eye has over 6900 facets.
• Each lens is transparent with a fixed focal length.
• No image can be formed on the bee’s retina.
The complete captured image is a mosaic of
small dots of varying degrees of brightness
1/100th of the perception of Human sight.
• The bees fusion frequency, a measure of
sensitivity to flicker is about 300 cycles per
second as compared to a human of 30 cycles
per second. This allows her to recognize
the shape of objects while she is in rapid
• A Honey Bee sees
movement five times
faster than the human
• The Bees compound
eye is efficient enough
to enable the bee to
recognize landmarks as
she approaches the
• The compound eye of the bee can differentiate with
one degree of accuracy. Compared To the human eye
which has a 1/16th degree of accuracy.
• Bees can distinguish between
patterns as long as they are
sufficiently different in amount
of brokenness.
• Bees cannot distinguish between the shapes in the
top row, nor between those in the bottom row. But
they can distinguish those in the top from those in
the bottom.
• Bees are red blind, and
visualize this color as a light
shade of Grey or Black.
• Bee Color vision is shifted to
the to the shorter wavelengths
giving them vision into the Ultra
Violet range.
• Bees are particularly
sensitive to blue, yellow
and blue-green and can
detect light intensity
only 1/20 as well as
The bees ability to see into
the Ultra Violet region allows
them to see special patterns
on flowers that can direct
bees to the nectar sources.
How do they do it?
• The Antenna is
extremely important
to the honey bee,
providing the means of
smell, touch and taste.
• Bees perceive smell
much the same way as
we do, except olfactory
receptors are on the
antennae of the insect.
• Each Antenna consist of 12
• The first segment is the
longest and it is followed by an
elbow. (Johnston’s Organ)
• The exoskeleton of each
antenna is completely covered
with feather like hairs, pore
plates, pits, pegs, and other
structures that perceive stimuli.
• Nature has created the honey-bee with taste organs
insensitive to sweetness. Bees use only flowers that have
a 40% - 75% nectar sugar content because it will meet
her nutritional value.
• Honey Bees sweetness detection as compared to
other species:
1. Butterfly
3. Man
2. Fish
4. Honey-Bee
• Each colony has their own odor and is distinguishable by
bees, and is the social cement that holds the hive
• The honey bee society can not function without
effective communications. Dance notwithstanding, most
honey bee communications occur by use of smell and
• The bee has the capability to select odor
communication clues over dance language information.
• If several kinds of plants are in bloom at the same
time, those with the most and sweetest nectar causes
the liveliest dances. (Species Diversity Preference)
• Smell receptors are general and others may receive
very specific chemicals odors of food or pheromones.
• The antenna receptors have been tested and can
detect over 700 floral scents.
•The tongue (Glossa) has many taste, smell,
and touch sense organs.
• Bees have an innate preference for
sweet citrus-like smelling monoterpenes.
• Touch sense is achieved by Mechanoreceptors located
on the antenna, mouth parts, and on the exoskeleton of
the Honey Bee.
• These Mechanoreceptors number in the millions and
most are invisible except under a microscope.
• They can be very general, such as body hairs for touch,
or very specific such as Proprioreceptors, that provide
information of the relative position of parts of the body.
• Bees use touch information to detect Gravity, and use
their gravity detection ability to transform the suns angle
into a magnetic angle within their dark hive.
• Bees also measure distance by walking, which they use
in measuring the internal dimensions of a potential cavity
for a new site, or during comb building.
• Flying bees have not been shown to respond to
airborne sounds, but bees on comb respond to very loud
sounds. Bees are extremely sensitive to any hive
vibration. (Queens Piping by placing the thorax against
the comb.)
• Honey bees are able to communicate distance, source
smell, taste, profitability of the source, and even direction
using the waggle dance.
• The dance shows complexities of the honey bee to
talk to each other abstractly.
• The dance does have it’s limitations. Bees cannot
communicate to foragers whether to search in the trees,
or at ground level for forage, or even a favorable flight
path, but they do exchange odor clues that are on the
• Absolute distance however, is not important to the bee.
All that matters is that she can remember the perceived
distance in a certain direction.
• They use landmarks such as lakes, trees, etc. These land
marks will take precedence over the position of the sun.
• The bees change the suns optical angle outside the hive
to a gravity orientation inside the hive. If the food
source is directly toward the sun, the straight of the
wiggle dance run is upward away from the gravity.
• If the comb is placed in a horizontal position, the dance
portion will point directly to the food source.
• Honey bees have different dialects between the various
races in the distance communication dances, but the
directional information is conveyed in the same manner.
Distance Communications
Race of Bees
0 - 10
0 - 20
0 - 80
Distance in Meters
34 – 36
64 – 66
80 - 90
• The straight portion is always
performed with the bee orienting
her body at the same position
relative to gravity on the vertical
• The orientation of the waggle
axis relative to gravity specifies
the azimuth direction of the food
source, relative to the direction of
the sun.
• Bees measure
distance by energy
expended in flight. They
convey the distance
information on energy
expenditure rather than
in a linear measure.
• Flight conditions like a
strong headwind or
tailwind are automatically
taken into account.
• The length of the
waggle run increases
with the distance flown
to reach the food
• Bees some how can measure the time segment and
translate it into distance.
• In memory experiments, bees retain scent
information for at least five days but quickly forget
visual clues.
• Newest discoveries is that bees have the ability to
detect magnetic and electrical fields. Bees use it to
align their parallel beeswax combs. How they detect
and use electrical field information is poorly
• Bees are able to make measurements by walking inside
the hive. It is amazing to be able to measure bee space,
and comb building dimensions.
• Honey bees prefer to use all their sense in combinations
and simultaneously to perceive their environment.
• Bees are able to account for the movement of the sun
by using their internal clocks.
• A bee can remember and separate up to nine feeding
appointments per day.
• The sense of time is not well understood in bees, but
they can accurately measure the timing of the waggle
• Their internal clock is accurate to within 15 minutes
and since flowers typically release nectar through the
course of the day bees turn up at the same location at
exactly the right time every day..
• Bees remember their experience of their terrain
from previous flights.
• Remarkably, if bees are imprisoned on their way back
from a foraging trip, they accurately compensate for
the passage of time in their waggle dance when
returning to the hive.

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