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Virginia Tech Researchers Develop Codec To Decipher Language of Honeybees

Honeybees at a feeder

Worldwide bee populations are in decline, but researchers at Virginia Tech have joined the effort to protect honeybees around the world by understanding their language and providing a universal translator to learn how to help them.

Bee’s do talk with each other, but it’s not the buzzing, it’s the waggle.

“The waggle dances have been observed in the hive since Aristotle’s time, but we didn’t know what the dances were for.”

Tech’s Margaret Couvillon says Karl von Frisch discovered the dances were about food.

“They are communicating a distance and a direction.”

Bees might have understood it, but it wasn’t until Couvillon and her colleagues used video surveillance and computers that a codec was developed to explain it to people around the globe.

“Every honeybee, everywhere, right.”

The USDA says every third bite of food we eat depends upon honeybees and other pollinators, and with Tech’s codec, it’s easier to determine when and where they need food.

The Tech research is appearing in the April issue of  Animal Behaviour.