Dancing Honey bee Robot Elicits Dance-Following and Recruits Foragers

by   Tim Landgraf, et al.

The honey bee dance communication system is one of the most popular examples of animal communication. Forager bees communicate the flight vector towards food, water, or resin sources to nestmates by performing a stereotypical motion pattern on the comb surface in the darkness of the hive. Bees that actively follow the circles of the dancer, so called dance-followers, may decode the message and fly according to the indicated vector that refers to the sun compass and their visual odometer. We investigated the dance communication system with a honeybee robot that reproduced the waggle dance pattern for a flight vector chosen by the experimenter. The dancing robot, called RoboBee, generated multiple cues contained in the biological dance pattern and elicited natural dance-following behavior in live bees. By tracking the flight trajectory of departing bees after following the dancing robot via harmonic radar we confirmed that bees used information obtained from the robotic dance to adjust their flight path. This is the first report on successful dance following and subsequent flight performance of bees recruited by a biomimetic robot.


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