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.