Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dancing honeybees use democratic process when selecting a new home

Date:
September 30, 2010
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
When honeybees seek a new home, they choose the best site through a democratic process that humans would do well to emulate, according to a biologist.

When honeybees seek a new home, they choose the best site through a democratic process that humans would do well to emulate, according to a Cornell biologist.
Credit: iStockphoto/Irina Tischenko

When honeybees seek a new home, they choose the best site through a democratic process that humans would do well to emulate, according to a Cornell biologist.

Related Articles


In his new book, "Honeybee Democracy," Thomas Seeley, professor of neurobiology and behavior, describes the elaborate decision-making process that honeybees (Apis mellifera) use when they make the life-or-death choice of a new nesting cavity.

When a hive becomes overpopulated, two-thirds of the worker bees and the old queen leave and gather on a nearby branch. Over the next few days, several hundred scout bees search out 10 to 20 potential sites in hollow trees. Meanwhile back at the swarm, each site gets announced with a dance.

"A scout adjusts how long she dances according to the goodness of the site," said Seeley. "She has a built-in ability to judge site quality, and she is honest; if the site is mediocre she won't advertise it strongly."

In turn, other scouts inspect the sites and return to dance for themselves. The best site elicits the most vigorous dances, so its popularity among the scouts grows the fastest. The most popular site is chosen when the number of bees visiting it reaches a critical threshold.

The bee's decision-making process is similar to how neurons work to make decisions in primate brains, Seeley says. In both swarms and brains, no individual bee or neuron has an overview, but with many independent individuals providing different pieces of information the group achieves optimal decision-making. Ants similarly organize themselves to make collective decisions, Seeley said.

"Consistencies like these suggest that there are general principles of organization for building groups far smarter than the smartest individuals in them," Seeley writes.

Humans can learn much about democratic decision-making by looking at bees, Seeley says. If the members of a group have common interests, such as the bees in a swarm, then the keys to good collective decision-making are to ensure the group contains diverse members and an impartial leader -- and conducts open debates.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Dancing honeybees use democratic process when selecting a new home." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100928153151.htm>.
Cornell University. (2010, September 30). Dancing honeybees use democratic process when selecting a new home. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100928153151.htm
Cornell University. "Dancing honeybees use democratic process when selecting a new home." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100928153151.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Two Andean bear cubs are unveiled at the U.S. National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Alicia Powell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) — Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins