Study of bees’ “waggle dance” show bees find it harder to collect nectar and pollen in summer

Article by Jasper Copping, article repost from The Telegraph 

They may be most active then, but summer is the most challenging season for honey bees to collect nectar and pollen, according to a new study, which analysed the insects’ “waggle dance”.

Researchers from the University of Sussex Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) spent two years filming honey bees in glass-fronted observation hives and then decoding their dances to discover how far the bees were having to fly to find sources of food during different seasons.

The dance, in which the bee waggles its abdomen while moving in a figure of eight pattern, is performed by returning forager bees in the hive to tell its nest mates where to find good sources of pollen and nectar. It indicates the distance to a patch of flowers from the hive and the direction in which it lies.

The bees in the study were able to access the surrounding downland countryside and Brighton and Hove through tube tunnels that opened to the outside of the lab.

By examining the waggle dance data, researchers found that in summer, honey bees were covering areas 22 times greater than in spring and six times greater than in the autumn.