Study details honeybee coalition building

Apr 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

Explore further: Disadvantaged men more likely to do 'women's work' reveals new study

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

It's down to the wire for online shopping

3 minutes ago

As the holiday shopping season winds down, FedEx, UPS and online retailers are using the last few days to try to avoid the problems that occurred last year when severe winter weather and a surge in late orders ...

Recommended for you

The psychology of gift-giving and receiving

4 hours ago

Gift exchanges can reveal how people think about others, what they value and enjoy, and how they build and maintain relationships. Researchers are exploring various aspects of gift-giving and receiving, such as how givers ...

Strong neighborhood ties can help reduce gun violence

6 hours ago

The bonds that tie a neighborhood together can help shield community members from gun violence, according to new findings by Yale School of Medicine researchers in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical ...

User comments : 0

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.