Finding a Flower Patch & Communicating Location

How do the scouts communicate the distance & direction from the hive where they have a found a good food source, so more foragers can go and collect food.



The ability of honey bees to communicate amongst themselves is really quite amazing.

In the case of your specific question, a scout bee communicates direction and distance to a new food source by dancing. It's sometimes called a waggle tail dance.

The scout bee will run in a pattern over the surface of a comb in the hive. The pattern will tell bees that are following the dance the direction to the new food source relative to the sun, and also the distance to the food source.

The dancing bee is even able to tell other bees about the quality of the food source by the vigor of her dance. Lots of easy-to-gather nectar at the new source? Then the dancer makes her runs across the comb with great bursts of energy. If the food source is mediocre, then her dance will not be quite as enthusiastic.

Often the dancing scout bee will also distribute tiny samples of the nectar from the new source to help other bees identify it once they've flown to the location.

You can read more at this page about honey bee communication.

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