Snapshot: Rogue bees

Jun 11, 2014

We are all familiar with the waggle-dance of the honey bee – the hyperactive figure of eight dance undertaken by returning bees to share with the hive information relating to the location of food so that other bees can forage the same source.

After studying this behaviour it was noted that some bees ignore the dance. This was a surprise to many as it seems inefficient and wasteful for these rogue bees to be ignoring the locations but it actually fulfils a critical function. If every bee complied with instructions to maximise pollen gathering it actually imposes a trap: what happens when the food runs out of the known locations?

These rogue bees are more akin to a “research and development” expenditure – they ensure that the hive can adapt to changing environmental conditions and locate pollen despite evolving distribution.