Essay Sample on Bee Communication

Published: 2023-01-26
Essay Sample on Bee Communication
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Communication Biology Nature Behavior Language development
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1650 words
14 min read

Bees are part of the social insects that reside in a colony of thousands of them, communication between them is paramount to enable their activities to run as they always do. On a broad look, bees usually use their movement, the pleasant odor cues, and the process of exchanging food between themselves during feeding to share a vast range of information.

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Communication through Movement (The Dance Language)

Bees usually get into a series of movements which can be described as the waggle dance. The main reason for doing this often is to teach and show other young species the sources of food which may be located for as far as 150 meters from the beehive station. Among the bees, are the scouts who are mandated to patrol and search for various sources of food (Hadley, 2019, July 3). They thus have to go back to the beehive and communicate to the rest that they have found a source, after which preparations for going for the food are undertaken after that.

If the scout bees get successful in obtaining food, they are supposed to dance in the honeycomb upon return to notify the rest. The honey bee then walks out first ahead while shaking the abdomen and at the same time producing a buzzing sound using its wings. Commonly, the foraging site for the bees is frequently depicted to other following bees by the speed of movement or the distance of movement.

Support the bees are to take a diversion to a given direction, then the first dancing bee must align her body in the proper direction, upon which the rest will also bend their wings to align in the specified path. However, the alignment is done relative to the direction and position of the sun. The dance pattern is then expected to return to figure eight with the wings aligned straight, indicating that the source of food is directed in the center-forward direction.

Nevertheless, the above-discussed form of movement and communication is used when the source is relatively far away from the beehive. The waggle dance of the two variations is usually used by the honey bees to direct other bees in the direction of food, after the arrival of the scout bees (Hadley, 2019, July 3). This type of round dance which involves numerous narrow and circular movements is customarily used to alert the colony members that the source of food is merely about 50 meters from the location of the hive.

The direction is specifically meant to communicate the direction and not the distance, which is slightly different from the first case discussed. Another type of waggle dance that honey bees usually use to direct another colony member on the location of the food source is called sickle dance. During the movement, the honey bees may use crescent-shaped patterns. The dance style usually does not specify the distance, but most probably, it may be in an interval of 50-150 meters away from the point where the hive is located.

Communication through Odor Cues or (Pheromones)

Odor cues is also a meaningful way to portray information to the colony members of the hive. The queen bee, in this case, uses pheromones to control nature and of reproduction process within the hive (Hadley, 2019, July 3). When it feels like mating, it usually produces a given set of pheromones that discourages all other female bee workers in the hive from mating. However, on the other hand, she provides given pheromones that encourage the male drones in the colony, to carry out coupling with her.

During the process of passing this information, the queen bee is supposed to produce a given set of odors that tells the rest of the workers that she is alive and safe wherever she is. This odor is an essential aspect, it must be unique to the specified queen of the hive, otherwise, if the workers get another funny or strange smell from the colony, there is a probability of 1 that it will be attacked as the workers shall assume that that is stranger that aims at causing harm to the queen or interferes with the honey (Harrison, 2010). For this reason, if by any chance, a beekeeper is to introduce another queen into the colony, then he/she must ensure that she is kept in a secret place for many days to allow the member of the territory to familiarize himself with the odor/smell before the queen is officially taken into the hive.

In addition to the communication ability of the pheromones by the queen during reproduction, pheromones also play a significant role in the security of the colony. For instance, suppose one bee stings an intruder to the hive, it will produce a given pheromone which will notify the rest of the workers of the threat occurrence.

Most probably, within a twinkle of an eye, other members of the colony shall have flooded the intruder to create more stings inform of attack. This set of communication between bees is a comprehensive explanation of the reason, as to why when a careless intruder tries to get into the beehive, he/she will get many stings from several bees of the colony.

Moreover, instead of using the waggle dance to indicate the direction and distance of the food location, odor cues may also be used by bees to determine the areas (Hadley, 2019, July 3). If this is to be used by the bees, then the process must begin with scout bees who must ensure that they carry with them a specific odor of the nectar of pollen grains of the flowers that they got. Also, it is believed by some previous researchers, that for the waggle dance, method of determining food location to be successful, there must be the presence of odor or smell of the particular food source obtained, or else, they may move but fail to locate the exact position of the flower for the source of food.

For this reason, the robotic honey bee which is the programmed bee to perform the waggle dance while heading others to the source of food, must have the odor cues given by the scout bee to be able to head into the correct location. Besides showing the exact location of the nectar of flower, odor cue can also be used by the robotic honey bee to dictate the quality of the food obtained to the rest of the workers following.

What Bees Cannot Communicate With Each Other

Bees cannot talk words to one another. The communication is more of sign language and their physical body movement. The best way to define the bee's form of communication is "a nominal graded communication." The reason, it is generally referred to as graded is because, the bees usually dance, on the inner walls in their hives. Another prominent reason, as to why the communication is only referred to as graded is because the movement involved in waggle dance is usually shown in an oval or figure-eight manner.

The movement must also specifically be directed towards the sun and gravity. In other words, the communication can is majorly driven by the degree of rotation for the robotic honey bee which informs others of the direction by the help of sun rays and gravity. Similarly, the distance is shown by the degree of the vigor of the abdomen for the honey bee. If the bee is moving at a lower degree, then it indicates that the area where the bees are heading to is nearer, and the reverse. In this case, also, communication is seen to be more of body communication, and no words are involved.

Lastly, communication is also referred to as graded because, when the bees are dancing, nature by which they are dancing is only dictated by the internal parameters and processes in them, not brain cells whatsoever. Similarly, for the bees to produce the smell or odor, it generally results from the antennae in the following manner. Once a given scent is detected by an antenna of a bee, the information for the smell is processed by the hyper-sensitive olfactory path of the given bee. This will enable the bee to identify the source, compare it with the available information, to finally come up with a final verdict as to whether it is valid, or needs an immediate response. Like in the other cases, bees only sense the scent, and communicate by either producing pheromones or dancing in the presence of others but can no longer utter words.

In conclusion, bee communication remains a significant study to carry through as it helps to understand how bees usually pass information to each other in response to various situations (Yule, 2016). Most importantly, it is very crucial to learn that, the robotic honey bees cannot direct other following bees towards the direction of the source of food but must, however, partner together with the waggle dance concept and the use of odor cue to uniquely identify the specified location of the food. It is also interesting to learn how the queen bee behaves typically when it's time for mating reaches. Its pheromones are powerful to make other female workers in the colony ineffective, while making the males active but specifically for her. The importance of pheromones doesn't only stop in this case, but the study reveals how pheromones play a vital role in providing security in the hive through communications between the bees.


Hadley, Debbie. (2019, July 3). How Honey Bees Communicate. Retrieved from

Harrison, K. D. (2010). The last speakers: The quest to save the world's most endangered languages. National Geographic Books.

Yule, G. (2016). The study of language. Cambridge university press. Retrieved from

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