We studied nest site selection by swarms of the red dwarf honeybee, Apis florea. By video recording and decoding all dances of four swarms, we were able to determine the direction and distances indicated by 1,239 dances performed by the bees. The bees also performed a total of 715 nondirectional dances; dances that were so brief that no directional information could be extracted. Even though dances converged over time to a smaller number of areas, in none of the swarms did dances converge to one site. As a result, even prior to lift off, bees performed dances indicating nest sites in several different directions. Two of four swarms traveled directly in what seemed to be the general direction indicated by the majority of dances in the half hour prior to swarm lift off. The other two traveled along circuitous routes in the general direction indicated by the dances. We suggest that nest site selection in A. florea has similar elements to nest site selection in the better-studied Apis mellifera. However, the observation that many more locations are indicated by dances prior to lift off also shows that there are fundamental differences between the two species.
- Apis florea
- Apis mellifera
- Decentralised decision-making
- Red dwarf honeybee