Study details honeybee coalition building

April 20, 2006
Study details honeybee coalition building
A honeybee swarm bivouacs on a tree branch, waiting for scout bees to select candidate sites for a new home, deliberate among the choices and then reach a verdict -- a process "complicated enough to rival the dealings of any department committee," says Cornell biologist Thomas Seeley. Courtesy of Thomas Seeley

U.S. scientists have found honeybees employ an unusual method of deciding which site to select as a new home -- a method that involves coalition building.

Cornell University biologist Thomas Seeley, lead author of the study, said when thousands of honeybees begin to hunt for a new home, usually a tree cavity, scouts are dispatched to find candidate sites.

When the scout bees return and communicate their choices through a "waggle dance," the rest of the colony considers the choices and reaches a verdict -- a process Seeley says is "complicated enough to rival the dealings of any department committee."

To study whether honeybees always choose the best site, the researchers offered swarms four small and one superior site in size. Although the superior site was never the first one found, it was almost always chosen.

The bees' group decision-making methods, which include an open forum of ideas, frank "discussions" and friendly competition, just might help human committees "achieve collective intelligence and thus avoid collective folly," conclude the researchers.

Seeley and colleagues report their study in the May-June issue of the journal American Scientist.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Microsoft describes hard-to-mimic authentication gesture

August 1, 2015

Photos. Messages. Bank account codes. And so much more—sit on a person's mobile device, and the question is, how to secure them without having to depend on lengthy password codes of letters and numbers. Vendors promoting ...

Netherlands bank customers can get vocal on payments

August 1, 2015

Are some people fed up with remembering and using passwords and PINs to make it though the day? Those who have had enough would prefer to do without them. For mobile tasks that involve banking, though, it is obvious that ...

How bees naturally vaccinate their babies

July 31, 2015

When it comes to vaccinating their babies, bees don't have a choice—they naturally immunize their offspring against specific diseases found in their environments. And now for the first time, scientists have discovered how ...

Model shows how surge in wealth inequality may be reversed

July 30, 2015

(Phys.org)—For many Americans, the single biggest problem facing the country is the growing wealth inequality. Based on income tax data, wealth inequality in the US has steadily increased since the mid-1980s, with the top ...

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.