Free Access
Volume 39, Number 3, May-June 2008
Page(s) 354 - 361
Published online 28 May 2008
Apidologie 39 (2008) 354-361
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2008018

"Migration dances" in swarming colonies of the honey bee, Apis mellifera

Lee Anne Lewis and Stanley Scott Schneider

Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA

Received 1 October 2007 - Revised 21 January 2008 - Accepted 30 January 2008 - Published online 28 May 2008

Abstract - The migration dance is a type of dance behavior typically found in tropical honey bee colonies that are preparing for seasonal absconding. Here we report the occurrence of migration-like dances in colonies of European honey bees, Apis mellifera, preparing for reproductive swarming. Compared to waggle dances performed during the same periods, the migration dances lacked the "figure-8" pattern of performance, could be performed when there was no flight from the hive, did not necessarily stimulate immediate recruitment, communicated extreme but highly variable distances, and did not communicate consistent directions of travel. Because the dance occurs when colonies are preparing for both seasonal absconding and swarming, we proposed that it be called the "relocation dance". The possible functions of relocation dances during preparations for reproductive swarming are discussed.

Key words: migration dance / waggle dance / swarming / absconding / seasonal migration

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2008