I am so flattered to receive fan mail and interesting requests every month! In my last column I wrote that some bees “didn’t understand the memo”, which raised several questions, what kind of memo would have been passed around, or how honeybees communicate. We do not use email or the internet. Rather, we have two main ways of communicating – pheromones and gestures.
Our mother, the queen, mainly uses pheromones to communicate. The pheromones that it emits mostly tell us that it is healthy, strong, and still produces eggs.
My sisters and I communicate mainly through gestures. If I find a particularly tasty and abundant food source, I can point this out to my sisters through the “wobbly dance”. I don’t suppose the wiggle dance is really comparable to the jitterbug or the electric slide, but with the dance I can tell my sisters what I found, which direction to go, and how far away from the beehive. Since people use the internet to communicate, you can see a good video of the wobbly dance on Youtube created by Georgia Tech College of Computing.
Worker bees also use pheromones to communicate. If one of my sisters has to protect the beehive with a sting, she releases an attractant pheromone that alarms other workers as a kind of “sting here” scent. We would rather not sting.
At this time of year I collect more nectar than pollen. Nectar is a carbohydrate and the basic component of our honey. The floral food sources that I currently find particularly delicious and plentiful include shrub roses, dogwood and black-eyed Susan. Some of my all time favorites are now blooming, including bee balm, lavender, and coneflower. I am very helpful in Stephanie’s vegetable garden to pollinate beans, pumpkin and tomatoes.
On summer evenings, when it is hot, my sisters and I hang out outside the beehive, a behavior called “beards”. You may also want to hang out on the deck and enjoy beautiful flowers on those warm summer evenings.
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