How Do Honey Bees Communicate?

Honey bees communicate through dances which convey the direction, distance and quality of food sources. Bees also communicate through odors and through the exchange of food.

Bees use two different dance patterns to communicate information about food sources. The round dance indicates that the food is within 75 meters of the hive. The waggle dance is used for food that is further away. The direction of the dance shows the direction of the food while the speed at which it is repeated indicates the distance. Bees dance more vigorously for high-quality food sources. Odors supplement the information provided by these dances. Bees use the same dances to communicate information about possible nest sites when swarming. Worker bees employ another dance consisting of rapid side-to-side vibration to signal a need to be groomed.