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Thread: Urban Bees Research - can you help?

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    Default Urban Bees Research - can you help?

    I am a researcher at Royal Holloway, University of London investigating the effect of urbanisation on honeybees (http://elizabethsamuelson.wix.com/beesinthecity) and am planning a large-scale experiment this summer using the honeybee waggle dance to compare foraging behaviour of urban and rural bees. To do this, we film bees in observation hives performing the waggle dance, a behaviour which informs their nestmates about the locations of profitable flower patches. We later analyse the videos, decoding the dances to plot foraging locations of the bees on a map. The aims of the experiment are to identify important foraging hotspots in the urban environment, and to compare foraging in urban and rural locations.

    We are looking for existing observation hives in London and the surrounding countryside (i.e. the counties around London) which we can visit to film waggle dances. I realise this is primarily a Scottish forum, but I wondered if anyone knows of any observation hives in the SE England area that are set up? This is likely to be museums, schools, attractions etc. Id be grateful for any leads so that we can start contacting sites to see if they are interested in being involved in the experiment.

    Thanks!

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    Senior Member fatshark's Avatar
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    I've always wondered about this ... with all those tall buildings it must be a nightmare to direct foragers to appropriate sites. Presumably they dance to give the 'as the bee flies' angle to the sun, but then the bees have to negotiate buildings en route. This must be inefficient.

    Welcome to the forum. Primarily Scottish, but global in our outlook and enthusiasm

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    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    Lindauer did his work on waggling for nest sites in post-war Berlin where the bees did indeed work round buildings.

    I'd like to help you, Elizabeth, but don't know much about what goes on around London. There is a London Beekeepers Association and you might find individuals there who have observation hives and would be willing to stock one for you to use. Running one 12 months a year requires real dedication!

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    I have these mental pictures of Lindauer and his students tearing round the streets of war torn Berlin chasing swarms. Although given the destruction in Berlin at the time I don't think there were that many buildings left that they had to fly over or round . It would be really interesting to repeat those studies in modern day London (or Berlin) to see how they now dance for their new homes in full urban surroundings, compared to say Seeley's studies on isolated islands with no major straight line obstacles.

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    Seeley definitely mentioned this in one of his lectures and he may have been talking about Lindauer. He described an experiment where the food source was at the other side of a mountain which the bees had to fly around. From memory I think the waggle dance indicated the direction as if flying through the mountain but gave the longer distance required with flying around it.

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    Senior Member fatshark's Avatar
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    Isn't evolution clever Crikey, you'd almost think that is was designed like this.

    However, imagine a colony living near the end of a very long mountain. They could fly 'round' one end to the food source, but not if they set off the other way. How would they know which way to turn?

    Does anyone know if Seeley covered this topic in Wisdom of the hive which I don't own?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    Seeley definitely mentioned this in one of his lectures and he may have been talking about Lindauer. He described an experiment where the food source was at the other side of a mountain .
    May not be the same experiment but Seeley describes a similar one in Honey Bee Ecology (I think) , it was a building between the bees and the sugar source. They flew round the building to get there but flew back in a "bee line" straight over the building. I'm now puzzling over how they give directions for the turn right 's and lefts .....

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    My mistake it was a von Frisch experiment, where he had foragers fly around a building in a dog leg to find a food source, but the dances directed the recruits in a direct line to the food source over the buildings. There is nice diagram of the experiment at this link. Just scroll down until you find it.

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    Senior Member fatshark's Avatar
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    I think that's a slightly different interpretation to mine of the experiment.
    The foragers found the food by flying around the building, returned (route unspecified), danced and directed the subsequent bees to use the straight line over the building. They fly in a straight line because the building isn't really an obstacle.
    That one I can understand ... I remain perplexed by the one when they can't fly over the obstacle.

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    Perhaps I didn't phrase it very well but that was my interpretation also. I presumed the foragers flew back in a straight line over the building and that the searching pattern round the building was just their easier way of going on the hunt for nectar.
    I've been looking for the mountain experiment but haven't found it so far.

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