Communication Between Honeybees: More than Just a Dance in the Dark


Communication Between Honeybees: More than Just a Dance in the Dark Author: Format: Hardback First Published: Published By: Springer Nature Switzerland AG
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Pages: 165 Illustrations and other contents: 59 Illustrations, color; 8 Illustrations, black and white; XI, 165 p. 67 illus., 59 illus. in color. Language: English ISBN: 9783030994839 Categories: , , , , Tag:

Germany’s leading bee researcher explains how bees communicate. Exciting and surprising new insights on communication between bees.

During the history of bee research, scientists have peered deep into the inner life of bee colonies and learned much about the behaviour of these insects. Above all, the bee waggle dance has become a famous and extensively discussed phenomenon. Nevertheless, recent insights reveal that while bees are social insects inside the hive they also communicate with one another outside the hive. In this book, Jurgen Tautz, renowned German bee researcher, provides an entertaining, fresh and enlightened account for lay and professional readers, not only about the fascinating dance language but also about additional remarkable phenomena concerning information exchange between bees.

From the author of the bestseller The Buzz about Bees. Communication Between Honeybees assembles, for the first time, a complete overview of how bees understand one another. Although communication biology research on bees has so far concentrated largely on events within the hive, this book directs attention as well, to how bees communicate in the field outside the hive. The reader learns which steps new bee recruits take to reach the feeder a dancing forager has advertised. The book analyses the status of work on the bee dance published over the last 100 years and orders the essential findings as building blocks into a coherent new concept of how bees find their target. In addition, the historical survey of research on the “Bee Language” explains how several contradictory and incomplete hypotheses can still survive.

A fresh point of view on one of the most remarkable behavioural performances in the animal kingdom. Observation from a different viewpoint leads to previously unknown insights. Such new perspectives clearly reveal both how large the gaps in our knowledge still are in relation to the language of bees and in which direction research must take to complete the picture of one of the most impressive behavioural accomplishments in animals.


Contents: Preface.- The struggle for insight.- How research on honeybee communication began.- Bee research blossoms with Karl von Frisch.- The dance language remains a controversial idea.- James L. Gould’s experiments explain some but not all difficulties.- Research focuses on the inside of the hive.- Spatial and temporal measurement of the dance figures.- Bees and vectors.- Robo-bees and radar techniques.- An interim balance sheet.- Swarm behaviour shows bees communicate not only through the dance.- Rethinking communication between bees.- Conclusion.- Appendix.

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“A book dedicated entirely to the story of the waggle dance. The book starts with a careful description of the history of bee research and Tautz makes a special effort to deliver the science ‘as is’ and avoid recycling previous interpretations. … it is long enough to make you wonder what makes this topic worthy of an entire book.” (Etya Amsalem, American Entomologist, Vol. 69 (2), 2023) “Tautz is to be applauded for attempting to write a synthesis of what has been learned over the past 100 years about how honey bees, like human beings, are able to direct groupmates to important places in the environment. Worker honey bees neither lead others, nor make trails, to these places. Instead, both they and we can ‘simply’ tell others where to find good food sources, snug homesites, and other sites of importance.” (Thomas D. Seeley, The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 98 (2), June, 2023) “The book sets out to explore, using available knowledge, how recruited foragers are successful in getting to a food source that they have been made aware of. Each chapter of the book is broken down into clear subsections, well-illustrated with appropriate explanatory figures and photographs. The book has a very useful glossary and very detailed references to nearly 300 relevant studies.” (Ian Campbell, BBKA News - The newsletter of The British Beekeepers' Association, March, 2023) “This is quite simply a masterclass of a book. It deals with the whole history of research on communication in honey bees from the earliest observations of Aristotle to the present day and is both authoritative and accessible. … I recommend this book to anyone who keeps bees, watches bees or is just fascinated by insects in general.” (George C. McGavin, BeeCraft, December, 2022) “I believe that this book is an essential read for anybody who is interested in honeybees, but it is also of great interest to a more general readership who may wish to understand more about the amazing world of social insects.” (Mary Montaut, The Beekeepers Quarterly, Vol. 150, December, 2022) “In this book renowned German bee researcher Jürgen Tautz provides an entertaining, fresh and enlightening account for both lay and professional readers, not only about the fascinating dance language but also about additional remarkable phenomena concerning information exchange between bees.” (Farming Scotland Magazine, December, 2022) “The book is richly illustrated. … I really enjoyed reading this book, and thanks to the many references to research over time on the topic, including research done by for example Thomas Seeley, it deepened and broadened my understanding of how bees communicates with each other.” (Paul Lindström, The Apiarist, October, 2022) “The book concludes with an excellent glossary and a magnificently comprehensive list of further references. … a text comes along that stands out from all others, written by a dedicated researcher possessed of the talent required to convey complex science to a wide audience. I take my hat off to Jürgen Tautz who has accomplished just that, and the world of bee research is all the better for it.” (David M. Gascoigne,, August 29, 2022)

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