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Older bees transmit the ‘wig dance’ Story-level




Social learning and knowledge sharing from generation to generation is a stamp of a culture among living beings. Although it has been documented in many animals, including small naked mole rats, songbirds, sperm whalesand humansearly social learning has just been demonstrated in insects.

TO study published March 9 in the journal Science is offering evidence that generational knowledge is critical to bees.

[Related: The first honeybee vaccine could protect the entire hive, starting with the queen.]

“We are beginning to understand that, just like us, animals can transmit important information for their survival through communities and families. Our new research shows that we can now extend that social learning to include insects,” said James Nieh, study co-author and a biologist at the University of California, San Diego. in a sentence.

Nieh and a team of researchers further analyzed a the “wiggle dance” of the bee. Bees have a highly organized community structure and use the dance to tell hive mates where critical food resources are located with an intricate series of movements. In the wiggle dance, the bees circle in a figure eight, while moving their bodies during the middle part of the dance. It’s like a breakdance performed at breakneck speed, with each bee moving the length of a body in less than a second.

The highly precise movements of the dance translate visual information from the environment surrounding the hive. Sending accurate information is especially remarkable as bees must move quickly across an often irregular hive comb surface. The team found that this dance improves with learning and can be transmitted culturally.

The video shows the first wiggle dance of a honey bee that was able to follow and observe other bees dancing before beginning its first dance. As a result, her first dance is significantly more orderly and precise. CREDIT: Dong Shihao/University of California San Diego

Nieh and fellow researchers Shihao Dong, Tao Lin and Ken Tan from the Chinese Academy of Sciences created colonies with bees that were the same age as an experiment to observe how experienced forager bees pass this process on to younger and less experienced.

Bees usually start dancing when they reach the right age and always follow the lead of experienced dancers first, but in these experimental colonies, they were unable to learn the dance from the older bees.

[Related: Bees choose violence when attempting honey heists.]

By comparison, bees that followed other dancers in control colonies that had a mix of bees of different ages had no trouble learning to move. The acquired social cues stayed with them throughout the Approximately 38 days of shelf life of the bees in the study.

Those who did not learn the correct wiggle dance at that critical early stage of learning could improve by watching other dancers and practicing, but could not correctly code the distance they created different “dialects”. The bees kept the dialect for the rest of their lives.

“Scientists believe that the dialects of bees are shaped by their local environments. If so, it makes sense for a colony to pass down a dialect that is well adapted to this environment.” Nieh said. Thus, the results provided evidence that social learning shapes honey bee signaling as it does early communication in many vertebrate species that also benefit from learning.

The next steps for this research is a better understanding of the role that the environment plays in shaping the language of bees. In addition, the team would like to know more about external threats such as pesticides to bees that could disrupt early language learning.

“We know that bees are quite intelligent and have the ability to do remarkable things.” Nieh said. “Multiple articles and studies have shown that pesticides can impair cognition and learning in honey bees, and therefore pesticides could impair their ability to learn to communicate, and potentially even reshape how this communication occurs.” transmitted to the next generation of bees in a colony.

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