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: China's reform of R&D budget management doesn't go far enough, research shows

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Introducing the multi-tasking nanoparticle

3 hours ago

Kit Lam and colleagues from UC Davis and other institutions have created dynamic nanoparticles (NPs) that could provide an arsenal of applications to diagnose and treat cancer. Built on an easy-to-make polymer, these particles ...

Eta Carinae: Our Neighboring Superstars

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The Eta Carinae star system does not lack for superlatives. Not only does it contain one of the biggest and brightest stars in our galaxy, weighing at least 90 times the mass of the Sun, it ...

Indonesia passes law to tap volcano power

3 hours ago

The Indonesian parliament on Tuesday passed a long-awaited law to bolster the geothermal energy industry and tap the power of the vast archipelago's scores of volcanoes.

Recommended for you

Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

Aug 29, 2014

One wish many workers may have this Labor Day is for more control and predictability of their work schedules. A new report finds that unpredictability is widespread in many workers' schedules—one reason ...

User comments : 0