Waggle dance effect: Dancing in autumn reduces the mass loss of a honeybee colony

Ryuichi Okada*, Tadaaki Akamatsu, Kanako Iwata, Hidetoshi Ikeno, Toshifumi Kimura, Mizue Ohashi, Hitoshi Aonuma, Etsuro Ito

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


A honeybee informs her nestmates about the location of a profitable food source that she has visited by means of a waggle dance: a round dance and a figure-of-eight dance for a short- and long-distance food source, respectively. Consequently, the colony achieves an effective collection of food. However, it is still not fully understood how much effect the dance behavior has on the food collection, because most of the relevant experiments have been performed only in limited locations under limited experimental conditions. Here, we examined the efficacy of the waggle dances by physically preventing bees from dancing and then analyzing the changes in daily mass of the hive as an index of daily food collection. To eliminate place- and year-specific effects, the experiments were performed under fully natural conditions in three different cities in Japan from mid September to early October in three different years. Because the experiments were performed in autumn, all six of the tested colonies lost mass on most of the experimental days. When the dance was prevented, the daily reduction in mass change was greater than when the dance was allowed, i.e. the dance inhibited the reduction of the hive mass. This indicates that dance is effective for food collection. Furthermore, clear inhibition was observed on the first two days of the experiments; after that, inhibition was no longer evident. This result suggests that the bee colony adapted to the new environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1633-1641
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2012 May
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptability
  • Food collection
  • Insect
  • Social behavior
  • Waggle dance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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