JRM Vol.35 No.4 pp. 901-910
doi: 10.20965/jrm.2023.p0901


Honey Bee Waggle Dance as a Model of Swarm Intelligence

Ryuichi Okada* ORCID Icon, Hidetoshi Ikeno** ORCID Icon, Hitoshi Aonuma* ORCID Icon, Midori Sakura* ORCID Icon, and Etsuro Ito*** ORCID Icon

*Department of Biology, Graduate School of Science, Kobe University
1-1 Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe, Hyogo 657-8501, Japan

**Faculty of Informatics, The University of Fukuchiyama
3370 Aza-Hori, Fukuchiyama, Kyoto 620-0886, Japan

***Department of Biology, Waseda University
2-2 Wakamatsucho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8480, Japan

January 24, 2023
April 3, 2023
August 20, 2023
social behavior, waggle dance, information transfer, collective foraging

Honey bees are social insects that form colonies (hives), which often consist of more than 10,000 individuals. In a colony, bees allocate jobs (division of labor) and work cooperatively and intelligently to maintain the colony’s activity, such as nursing broods, cleaning, and guarding against enemies. Among worker bees, only forager bees collect food, and success in finding food directly influences colony survival. For more efficient foraging, honey bees share location information pertaining to profitable food sources through specific behavior called “waggle dances.” During such dances, the direction and distance from the hive to the food source are encoded as body movements. Other foragers follow the dancing bees and receive location information. Some of these bees then fly to the advertised location to find the food source. Some of these “recruited bees” subsequently dance to recruit new bees. This process is then repeated. Consequently, many foragers visit the food source, and a colony can rapidly and flexibly collect large amounts of food even in foraging environment that can suddenly change (e.g., flowers disappear or nectar flux increases/decreases). To achieve effective food collection through the waggle dance, the behavior of both the dancers and followers probably contains information for an implementation of “swarm intelligence.” In this review, we introduce the properties of dance behavior at the levels of dancers, followers, and colonies. We found that errors in waggle dance information play an important role in adaptive foraging in dynamically changing environments.

A honey bee performing a waggle dance

A honey bee performing a waggle dance

Cite this article as:
R. Okada, H. Ikeno, H. Aonuma, M. Sakura, and E. Ito, “Honey Bee Waggle Dance as a Model of Swarm Intelligence,” J. Robot. Mechatron., Vol.35 No.4, pp. 901-910, 2023.
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Last updated on Sep. 29, 2023