How Bees Communicate

There are many ways how bees communicate. But how do Bees share information about the location of a good source of food or if there is danger? Well, that’s where things get really interesting…


Waggle Dance

Bees communicate with each other using a variety of methods, including dances, pheromones, and sounds. When a bee finds a good source of food, she will return to the hive and perform a ‘waggle dance.‘ This dance communicates the direction and distance of the food source to the other bees in the hive.

The ‘waggle dance’ is performed by bees who have returned to the hive after finding a good source of food. The bee will start by performing a figure-eight pattern, then move in a straight line while vibrating its abdomen. The angle and intensity of the vibrations convey information about the direction and distance of the food source. By watching the dance, other bees in the hive can determine where they should fly to find food.


Pheromones are also important for bee communication. Each bee produces a unique blend of pheromones that serves as a chemical signature. This signature allows bees to identify individual bees, as well as their role in the hive (e.g., queen, worker, etc.). They use pheromones to mark safe routes to food sources and to communicate alarm and hostility. When a bee detects a threat, it releases a pheromone that triggers an alarm response in other bees. This pheromone-based communication system allows bees to rapidly relay information about potential dangers. Studies have shown that bees can distinguish between different pheromone signatures and use this information to make decisions about which routes to take when foraging for food.


It turns out that bees can actually hear sound! They emit it through movements of their wings and use muscle contractions in order to move them. The thoracic cavity is where these vibrations occur, which means they’re able detect frequencies all throughout the range from less than 10Hz up into 1000’s territory (around 500 Hz) and produce many frequencies of vibration and sound – from less than 10 to more than 1000 Hz.

Scientists have long known that bees communicate with each other through a complex system, but a new study has shown that they also use sound to share information about good sources of food. The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Sussex and published in the journal Science, found that bees produce a high-pitched buzzing noise when they find a particularly rich source of nectar. Other bees in the area can then pick up on the sound and use it to guide them to the same location. The researchers believe that this form of communication may be particularly important in helping bees to find food during times of scarcity.

Researcher at the Nottingham Trent University have decoded sounds from honeybee queens using ultra sensitive vibration detectors. The eggs in which the queen bees grow make a quacking noise when ready to hatch. Once the queen emerges, her quacks change to toots. This is a warning to the other bees to prohibit the other queens from hatching. This type of communication is communication is between the queen and the worker bees.

Dr Martin Bencsik from the Nottingham Trent University said, “Quacking queens are purposefully kept captive [in their eggs] by the worker bees – they will not release the quacking queens because they can hear the tooting. When the tooting stops, that means the queen would have swarmed [split the colony to find a new nest] and this triggers the colony to release a new queen.

Together, these different methods of communication help bees to collaborate effectively and play a vital role in the functioning of the hive.

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