Do honey bees modulate dance following according to foraging distance?

Published: 20 December 2021| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/t53xwmdx95.1
William Hoppitt,


Data description Data includes records of visits to feeding stations by honey bee foragers, collected by both human observers at the feeder and transcription of video recordings. In addition, during trials, in-hive behaviour was recorded by video camera. From these recordings, data on in-hive interactions between foragers and the timing of arrivals and departures were recorded. Associated paper: Hasenjager, M.J., Hoppitt, W., & Leadbeater, E. Do honey bees modulate dance following according to foraging distance? Animal Behaviour, in press. Abstract: Honey bees famously use waggle dances to communicate foraging locations to nestmates in the hive, thereby recruiting them to those sites. The decision to dance is governed by rules that, when operating collectively, are assumed to direct foragers to the most profitable locations with little input from potential recruits, who are presumed to respond similarly to any dance regardless of its information content. Yet, variation in receiver responses can qualitatively alter collective outcomes. Here, we use network-based diffusion analysis to compare the collective influence of dance information during recruitment to feeders at different distances. We further assess how any such effects might be achieved at the individual level by dance followers either persisting with known sites when novel targets are distant and/or seeking more accurate spatial information to guide long-distance searches. Contrary to predictions, we found little evidence that dance followers’ responses depended on target distance over the foraging distances considered here (100–500 m). While dance information was always key to feeder discovery, its importance did not vary with feeder distance, and bees were in fact quicker to abandon previously rewarding sites for distant alternatives. These findings provide empirical support for the long-standing assumption that self-organized foraging by honey bee colonies relies heavily on signal performance rules with limited input from recipients.


Steps to reproduce

The R code is fully annotated to describe how these data were analysed. In addition, we have uploaded a ReadMe file describing each datafile.


Royal Holloway University of London


Social Insect, Social Network Analysis, Collective Behavior, Honey Bee