Logo IMG
HOME > My Amsci > Restricted Access

Restricted Access The content you've requested is available without charge only to active Sigma Xi members and American Scientist subscribers.

If you are an active member or an individual subscriber, please log in now in order to access this article.

If you are not a member or individual subscriber, you can:


Figure 11. Scout bees tune...Click to Enlarge Image

One of the turning points in the life of a honey bee colony is when  a queen bee bequeaths her hive to her daughter queen, takes half the worker bees and goes off to start a new nest. The departing bees' process of deciding on a new home seems to take some time. With careful research, Thomas Seeley and his colleagues have uncovered how a swarm comes to a decision. It's not a democracy, exactly, but rather a matter of reaching a threshold as bees endorse a particular site using their "waggle dancing." For a group of about 10,000 bees, several hundred scout out nest sites, but it takes the build-up of just 10 to 20 bees at a site before the swarm starts to move to that location. Through experiments and mathematical modeling, Seeley's group has shown that the bees' method is best at balancing the need to find a home quickly and choosing an ideal nesting site.

Connect With Us:

Facebook Icon Sm Twitter Icon Google+ Icon Pinterest Icon RSS Feed Instagram Icon

Subscribe to Free eNewsletters!

Read Past Issues on JSTOR

JSTOR, the online academic archive, contains complete back issues of American Scientist from 1913 (known then as the Sigma Xi Quarterly) through 2005.

The table of contents for each issue is freely available to all users; those with institutional access can read each complete issue.

View the full collection here.

RSS Feed Subscription

Receive notification when new content is posted from the entire website, or choose from the customized feeds available.

Write for American Scientist

Review our submission guidelines.

Subscribe to American Scientist