Science Studies reveal amazing communication abilities of the energetic bees
Bomb detection expert, plant breeder par excellence, creative dance communicator, olfactory signal recognition wizard — inspiring guide to Nobel Prize winner Karl von Fritsch and to savvy artificial intelligence researchers working on expert systems for vision — the geniuses we are talking about are the energetic and industrious bees. Bees are said to have amazing abilities which the scientists have begun to explore and understand. Bees can see in colour, recognise human faces, hear sounds at frequencies much lower than what human ears can detect and have an extraordinary sense of smell. The remarkable olfactory abilities of bees have got scientists thinking and working. Tim Harmann, Principal Investigator of the Stealthy Insect Sensor Project at the Los Alamos National Laboratory has successfully trained honeybees to detect TNT (Trinitrotoluene), C4 and TATP (Triacetone Triperoxide) explosives. If a particular explosive for which the bee has been trained to detect is present, the bees stick out their tongue.
“Mama, are those bees dancing?” Asked Arjun excitedly when he saw a cluster of bees flying gracefully in big sweeping circles. Suvarna, a biologist who had just finished teaching her children about the dance of the bees nodded in agreement. Amazing isn't it? Bees inform one another about the exact location of the source of food simply by dancing. Karl von Fritsch was awarded the Nobel Prize for successfully interpreting the dance language of the bees.
This ability is considered by biologists to be an extremely sophisticated form of communication in the animal world. Von Fritsch noted that the pace at which bees dance as well as the direction which they faced in relation to the sun gave a clear identification to the other bees about the location of food sources. They also use sophisticated vector calculus techniques and keep changing the angles at which they move their bodies (according to the sun's movement) so that the exact location of the place can be communicated accurately.
An interesting video of this observation can be seen on http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=4NtegAOQpSs& feature=fvw
Scientists have found that bees have been able to recognise human faces too. That the bees are able to do this with just a pin-sized brain and with less than a million neurons is truly remarkable. Worldwide, if the contribution of bees were to be acknowledged, it would add up for billions of dollars value to food security, development of new varieties of food plants and sustainable food production. This is because bees act as nature's expert breeders by pollinating thousands of plants, each time they are out foraging for nectar.