My previous workplace, the wonderful Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, has recently installed a glass-walled beehive that allows visitors to observe activity inside. This reminds me of my second year at university as our Animal Behavior class included a few weeks of staring at bees in a similar manner. I cannot remember what my group worked on but I do remember the empowering feeling of mastery when suddenly I could find waggle dances.
There might be a photo here. I am attempting to embed a Facebook image. If it doesn’t work, try this link. Or, try this link anyway for more Wye Marsh stuff.
My excellent friend and onetime co-worker at the Marsh, Nick, loved the Fibonacci sequence and I suspect it was demonstrated here. For around thirteen minutes, I saw nothing but squirming bees in a well-lit but claustrophobically tight box. I was about to give up. Then I saw my first waggle dance. More squirming bees for another, let’s say, eight minutes followed by my sighting of another waggle dance. Five minutes later, I saw another. Three minutes later, two minutes later, one minute later and one minute later I saw them again. Then I was keyed to see any waggle dance. Some time afterward, I was able to find the queen after a brief search. It really felt like magic.
For most youth, now and probably in my day too (ah, Jumpman), the playing of computer games is what teaches similar concentration and patience.
I was going to make this post some kind of lesson or sermon, but heck, learn how to spot bee waggle dances – it takes a few minutes but it really wows friends!
The researchers chose an area of 94 square kilometers around the hives that included urban, agricultural and protected areas, and divided that area into 60 square blocks. Then, by videotaping and painstakingly decoding over 5,000 waggle dances over the course of two years, they could see where the bees preferred to go.
The scientists found that overall, bees were significantly more likely to give an approving waggle to land that had been targeted for more intensive restoration of grasslands or of margins around the edges of agricultural fields compared with areas having less stringent requirements. Oddly, they also found that bees seemed to specifically avoid some areas that had been targeted for low-level restoration. Couvillon says that this may be due to how these schemes are managed—frequent mowing, for instance, may reduce the number of flowers. But the bees were often on target. The scientists found that two blocks most frequently tagged with a waggle—after correcting for distance from the hives—each contained a protected nature reserve.