Error in the honeybee waggle dance improves foraging flexibility

Ryuichi Okada*, Hidetoshi Ikeno, Toshifumi Kimura, Mizue Ohashi, Hitoshi Aonuma, Etsuro Ito

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The honeybee waggle dance communicates the location of profitable food sources, usually with a certain degree of error in the directional information ranging from 10-15° at the lower margin. We simulated one-day colonial foraging to address the biological significance of information error in the waggle dance. When the error was 30° or larger, the waggle dance was not beneficial. If the error was 15°, the waggle dance was beneficial when the food sources were scarce. When the error was 10° or smaller, the waggle dance was beneficial under all the conditions tested. Our simulation also showed that precise information (0-5° error) yielded great success in finding feeders, but also caused failures at finding new feeders, i.e., a high-risk high-return strategy. The observation that actual bees perform the waggle dance with an error of 10-15° might reflect, at least in part, the maintenance of a successful yet risky foraging trade-off.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4175
JournalScientific reports
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Feb 26
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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