Bees are social insects – they live in a large community called a swarm. In order to ensure the proper functioning of such swarms, bees need to communicate effectively. Accordingly, they have developed different ways of interacting with each other.
One of the most important forms of communication among bees is dancing. When a bee finds a source of nectar or pollen, it returns to the hive and performs a special dance – the so-called “indicative dance”. The dancing bee bounces on the wax floor of the hive, performing a series of intricate movements that show others in the community the direction and distance to a particular food source. In other words, the dancing bee conveys information about how far the food is and in which way to fly.
In fact there are two types of bee dance: the round and square dance. The round type is used when flowers are found in close proximity to the hive, while the square – to point out food sources further away from the hive.
In the round dance, the dancing bee moves in a circle, making a series of short jumps around its axis. The dance usually lasts about 15 seconds and ends with a flight direction to the flowers. While dancing, the bee makes wing sounds that are audible to others in the hive.
The square dance, in turn, is more complicated and lasts relatively longer. The dancing bee performs a series of complex movements that reflect the direction and distance to the food source. This way, the bees can precisely determine where exactly the flower, which is with visiting, is located.
We propose to conduct a game with children, consolidating knowledge about the dance of bees.
Time: 20 minutes
Purpose: Consolidation of knowledge about one of the ways that bees communicate; getting some physical activity.
All the children taking part in the game play bees in the hive. Their task will be to find the hidden nectar. One child, chosen either voluntarily or at random, goes in search of the nectar – their task is to look around the room and choose one object in which the nectar can be hidden. For example, the teacher’s cupboard, a colleague’s pencil case, a blackboard, etc. Additionally, for as long as the chosen bee explores the room and thinks of an object where the nectar can be hidden, the rest of the hive “sleeps” – that is, the kids close their eyes and wait for the “Ready!” signal.
The next task of our bee is to tell others where the hidden nectar is. It is not allowed to point out or name a particular object – instead, the object has to be described with movements. Based on this “dance”, the rest of the children are to guess where the nectar is hidden. The first person to guess the item turns into a nectar-seeking bee.
This post was created as part of a project co-financed by Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt in cooperation with Naturschutzzentrum Oberlausitzer Bergland.