Friday, September 18, 2009

Striped Bees Can't Dance

What do you know about bees? While you're very quickly running through all that vast accumulated knowledge in your head (or even, if you're very keen, on paper), I'll cut to the chase:

Does your knowledge about bees include the fact that one bee does a little dance to tell the other bees where there's food?

Well, it turns out that bees are about as good at following the instructions in the dance as humans are at following satnav. Which is to say: not very good at all.

I just read this on the New Scientist website:

In one study, GrĂ¼ter and his colleague Walter Farina of the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina found that among bees that attend to a dance, 93 per cent ignore the instructions and head to a food source they already know about.

Brilliant. A bee comes home after a hard day's foraging and gets so excited about a new food source that he does a little dance. And what do you say? You and 93 per cent of your friends? You say, "Yeah, that sounds great Bob, but we're going to KFC."

(And yes, the Bee is called Bob. Bob the Bee.)

It gets better than that though, because:

Similarly, bees often seem unable to follow the instructions. Some watch more than 50 runs and make several sorties out of the hive but never find the food.

I think if I were a bee, I might be one of those bees.

Read the whole comic saga here:


Anonymous said...

I'll bee sticking with KFC then.

Joe said...

ho ho.