Vibration Signal Behavior of Waggle-dancers in Swarms of the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

Authors

  • S. S. Schneider,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Department of Entomology University of California at Riverside and Department of Entomology The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
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  • P. K. Visscher,

    1. Department of Biology University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Department of Entomology University of California at Riverside and Department of Entomology The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
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  • S. Camazine

    1. Department of Biology University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Department of Entomology University of California at Riverside and Department of Entomology The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
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Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA. E-mail: SSCHNEDR@email.uncc.edu

Abstract

We hypothesize two functions of the vibration signal (dorsal ventral abdominal vibration = DVAV) during swarming in honey bees: 1. it enhances recruitment to the specific sites advertised by the waggle dancers which also perform the vibration signal; and 2. it acts as a nonspecific modulatory signal to stimulate activity in other bees. The stimulation of activity invoked by the second hypothesis might include increasing nest-site scouting and dance following early in the house-hunting process or rousing quiescent bees to prepare them for lift-off late in the process, or both. In studies of neotropical African bee swarms in Costa Rica and European bees in California we tested these hypotheses by looking for associations between production of vibration signals by nest-site recruiters and site attractiveness (indicated by which site was ultimately chosen and by distance from the swarm since swarms may have a distance preference). Overall, bees dancing for the chosen sites performed vibration signals to the same extent as those dancing for the other sites. There were no distance differences between sites whose scouts did and did not vibrate other bees. These results are inconsistent with the hypothesis that the vibration signal enhances recruitment to especially high quality sites and they support the hypothesis that it plays a general excitatory role in the context of house hunting by swarming bees.

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