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Waggle Dance Controversy Resolved By Radar Records Of Bee Flight Paths
A paper published in Nature on May 12th (1) provides new data that resolves a long-standing scientific controversy. In the 1960s, Nobel Prize winning zoologist, Karl von Frisch, proposed that honeybees use dance (the“waggle dance”) as a coded message to guide other bees to new food sources. However, some scientists did not accept von Frisch’s theory. Using harmonic radar, scientists, funded in part by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have now tracked the flight of bees that had attended a “waggle dance” and found that they flew straight to the vicinity of the feeding site, as predicted by von Frisch. The tracks allowed the scientists to determine how accurately bees translate the dance code into successful navigation, and showed that they correct for wind drift even when en route to destinations they have never visited before.
Bee with radar attached. (Image courtesy of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Rothamsted Research)
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