How Do Bees Communicate?

  • Bees use a special form of communication in order to find food. Certain flowers provide more food or a continuous supply of food, and bees perform a "dance" to tell each other where to go. Using the sun as a sort of compass, they move in circles and back-and-forth motions in a type of dance that explains where they have found food and what time of day it is most plentiful.

  • After a food supply is found a scout bee will return to the hive. She will perform a "Waggle Dance" if the food source is far away or a "Round Dance" if it is near. The length of each waggle or turn is thought to describe how far away and the direction the food is in. If the dance is very fast the food source is plentiful but if it is slower there is less food. Each type and species of bee does this dance in a slightly different way. Some perform it outside the hive, while others go inside.

  • A less popular theory on how bees communicate is called the "Odor Plume." This is said to be a way that bees tell each other about food by making other bees aware of a scent trail leading to a food source. In this theory, the dance is said to be simply a means of drawing attention to the returning scout bee.

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