Video: Dancing Bees Reveal When to Plant Flowers

Adding more flowers to the landscape is one way to help ailing honey bee populations, but just when should these flowers be planted? To answer that question, researchers spent 2 years eavesdropping on more than 5000 waggle dances; the duration and direction of the dances (seen in video above) indicate where flowers are and how far away they are, respectively. Waggle dances are longest in the summer, the team reports today in PLOS ONE, indicating that bees travel the farthest distances to find food during this season. The mean foraging distance increased from 493 meters in the spring to 2156 meters in the summer, then back down to 1275 meters in autumn. The insects don’t travel that far for better flowers; instead, the researchers found, there are just fewer flowers around in the summer, so the bees have to fly farther to find them. Thus, to save honey bees, the team suggests that gardeners plant more flowers that bloom in the summer months.

Posted in Plants & Animals