How bees communicate its all in the hips

One of the most interesting things about honey bees is how they communicate.

A foraging bee that has just discovered a great source of nectar and pollen tells the other workers where to find it by doing a little “dance.” If the flowers are within 30 yards, the bee will do a “round dance,” flying in a circle in one direction and then the other. This dance tells the other bees that the flowers are nearby. If the source is more than 30 yards away, the bee does a “waggle dance.” The motions of the dance are a type of code to tell the other bees where the food source is.

If the sun is straight ahead, and the food source is directly in front of or directly behind the hive, the waggle line will be straight up or straight down the honeycomb. If the food source isn’t directly in front of or behind the hive, the bee will adjust the waggle to match the number of degrees the source is from the sun. The angle of the dance is always relative to the sun.


The dance of the bees was first described by Aristotle around 330 BC. German professor of zoology Karl von Frisch won the Nobel Prize in 1973 for his landmark research on the bee dance. He wrote a book published in 1967 called Dance Language and Bee Orientation, which summarized scientific evidence on honeybee communication from five decades of research.

After the honeybee has performed its dance, it can share some of the food it has found with other bees in the colony. It is believed that bees do this in order to provide information about the quality of the food.

In addition to dancing, bees also use the smell of a food source to convey information about it to other honeybees.