Researchers decipher and codify the universal language of honey bees

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The researchers analyzed the dances of 85 marked bees from three hives. Credit: Virginia Tech

For Virginia Tech researchers Margaret Couvillon and Roger Schürch, the Tower of Babel origin myth—intended to explain the genesis of the world’s many languages—holds great meaning.

The two assistant professors and their teams have decoded the language of honey bees in such a way that will allow other scientists across the globe to interpret the insects’ highly sophisticated and complex communications.

In a paper appearing in April’s issue of Animal Behaviour, the researchers present an extraordinary foundational advance—a universal calibration, or for science fiction aficionados, a “babel fish,” that translates honey bee communications across sub-species and landscapes. By deciphering the instructive messages encoded in the insects’ movements, called waggle dances, the teams hope to better understand the insects’ preferred forages and the location of these food sources.

“Before we can feed pollinators, we need to know when and where they need food. We must decode waggle dances,” said Schürch, the paper’s lead author. “So, this is a fundamental first step.”


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This article and images were originally posted on [Phys.org]. Credit to the original author and Phys.org | ESIST.T>G>S Recommended Articles Of The Day

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