How do bees find the source of food in the following situation.At a park one day, you see a bee flying around an open can of soda.  A few minutes later later there is a swarm of bees around this...

How do bees find the source of food in the following situation.

At a park one day, you see a bee flying around an open can of soda.  A few minutes later later there is a swarm of bees around this can but other open cans nearby have no bees around them.  Why are the bees focused on one can but not the others?

Asked on by io500

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The bees are focused on the one can of soda because that is the only can of soda that they know about.  They have not come out randomly looking for sources of food.  Instead, they have come out looking for a particular food source that has been described to them by the first bee that found it.

Bees communicate the location of food sources to one another by "dancing."  A bee comes to the hive and makes a series of movements that show the other bees where the food source is in relation to the sun.  This allows the other bees to head straight for the source of food that the first bee has found instead of going around looking randomly for food sources (the other cans of soda).

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

I was wondering if the answer posted above is entirely correct.

It is true that scout bees locate and communicate the source of quality and abundant food to other bees in the colony by means of dance as explained in the post above. But there are two aspects of the answer which need to be examined more closely. First the dance of the scout bee indicates source of food in terms of general location like a patch of land having many flowers containing good quality nectar. The dance of the scout bees is not able to indicate location of each flower or can of soda that can provide the bees with food. The bees must go the patch of land indicated by scout bees and then find the exact source of food in that patch.It is important that scout bees are able to communicate location of sources of food that are several kilometres away. It is not possible for them to indicate a location as specific as a can of soda from a distance of more than than, say, fifty meters away.

This brings us the second question left unexplained. How do the scout bees locate the source of food in the first place. It It is my guess that ones the scout bees, or other ordinary bees, are in the vicinity of an area having suitable source of food, must employ some means to locate that source very precisely. I really do not know how bees do it. But it will be interesting to know.

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