waggle dance

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One of two patterns of movement, described by the Austrian zoologist Karl von Frisch (1886–1982) in a series of publications from 1924 onwards, through which a female honey-bee communicates to other members of her hive the direction and distance of a source of nectar or a new nesting site more than a certain distance away—more than about 5–80 metres away, depending on the bee species or subspecies. The bee describes a repeated figure of eight on the (usually) vertical surface of a honeycomb, moving in a straight line while waggling her abdomen swiftly (3–15 hertz) from side to side, looping back to perform another straight waggling run from the same point, then looping back for a further straight waggling run, and so on, alternating the return loops between left anticlockwise) and right (clockwise) (see illustration). The direction of the waggling run relative to the perpendicular indicates the direction of the target relative to the position of the sun, the liveliness and length of the dance, how rich the food source is; and the tempo of the dance, the distance of the food source—for example, in the giant honey-bee Apis dorsata, 40 complete figures of eight per minute indicates 15 metres, 27 per minute indicates 30 metres, and 19 per minute indicates 610 metres. This comes closer to being a language (1) than any other non-human communication system. Compare round dance. [Translated from von Frisch's German Schwänzeltanz literally tail-wagging dance, from schwänzeln to wag one's tail, from Schwanz a tail + Tanz a dance]

Waggle dance

Subjects: Psychology.

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