to collective behaviour: decision making by house-hunting honeybees

Mary Myerscough (Centre for Mathematical Biology School of Mathema)

Wednesday 14th January, 2009 15:30-16:30 L831 Math Blg, Livingstone Tower, Strathclyde Uni.


In the spring a swarm of bees may leave the hive and settle on a branch of a tree while scouts go out and search for a new home. When a scout has found a new home she returns to the swarm and performs a waggle dance that advertises the location and quality of the potential new home. She then returns to the site and comes back to the swarm again to advertise the site. A scout may make several returns. The scouts behaviour allow the swarm to make a collective decision about which is the best site available, even though no scout has visited more than one site. In this talk, I present results from two models which help us to understand how this process works. One model relies on ideas similar to matrix population models. The other is a simple probabilistic model, similar to models for the spread of disease. The models show how the individual dances generate a collective decision and suggest how honey bee colonies have adapted to be more careful when making more difficult decisions.

Add to your calendar

Download event information as iCalendar file (only this event)