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The Causes of the Tremble Dance of the Honeybee, Apis mellifera

Wolfgang H. Kirchner and Martin Lindauer
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Vol. 35, No. 5 (1994), pp. 303-308
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4601015
Page Count: 6
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The Causes of the Tremble Dance of the Honeybee, Apis mellifera
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Abstract

Tremble dances are sometimes performed by returning forager bees instead of waggle dances. Recent studies by Seeley (1992) and Kirchner (1993) have revealed that this behaviour is part of the recruitment communication system of bees. The ultimate cause of tremble dances is, according to Seeley (1992), an imbalance between the nectar intake rate and the nectar processing capacity of the colony. This imbalance is correlated with a long initial search time of returning foragers to find bees to unload them. However, it remained unclear whether a long search time is the direct proximate cause of tremble dancing. Here we report that a variety of experimental conditions can elicit tremble dances. All of them have in common that the total search time that foragers spend searching for unloaders, until they are fully unloaded, is prolonged. This finding supports and extends the hypothesis that a long search time is the proximate cause of tremble dancing. The results also confirm the previous reports of Lindauer (1948) and others about factors eliciting tremble dancing.

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