News of the WeekNeurobiology

Bee Dance Reveals Bee's-Eye View

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Science  01 Jun 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5522, pp. 1628-1629
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5522.1628

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For years, bee biologists have argued about whether the dance that honeybees perform when they return to the hive communicates anything more than the general direction of the nectar source. Now neurobiologists have settled this question by tricking a foraging honeybee into communicating the wrong information to its hivemates. The work, reported in the 31 May issue of Nature, shows that bees get distance information from the dances; it also confirms that the bee measures distance in terms of "optic flow," the stream of visual cues encountered along a flight.