Free Access
Volume 36, Number 4, October-December 2005
Page(s) 513 - 521
Apidologie 36 (2005) 513-521
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2005037

Does plastic comb foundation hinder waggle dance communication?

Thomas D. Seeleya, Adrian M. Reicha and Jürgen Tautzb

a  Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
b  bee group, Biocenter, Universität Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany

(Received 8 February 2005 - revised 16 March 2005 - accepted 16 March 2005; Published online: 13 September 2005)

Abstract - In recent years, plastic comb foundation has become widely used by beekeepers but it has not been studied to see if it hinders recruitment communication by reducing the transmission of the comb vibrations produced by bees performing waggle dances. We used laser vibrometry to compare combs built with beeswax foundation vs. plastic foundation in terms of transmission of dance vibrations. We also used behavioral experiments to compare the recruitment effectiveness of dances performed on combs built with beeswax foundation vs. plastic foundation. We found that combs built with plastic foundation are markedly poorer at transmitting the 250 Hz vibrations produced by dancing bees. Nevertheless, we found no evidence of reduced effectiveness of dances performed on combs built with plastic foundation vs. combs built with beeswax foundation. Evidently, a comb built with plastic foundation provides a fully suitable substrate for waggle dance communication.

Key words: Apis mellifera / comb vibration / plastic foundation / recruitment communication / waggle dance

Corresponding author: Thomas D. Seeley

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2005