The evolution of honey bee dance communication: A mechanistic perspective

Andrew B. Barron*, Jenny Aino Plath

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    36 Citations (Scopus)


    Honey bee dance has been intensively studied as a communication system, and yet we still know very little about the neurobiological mechanisms supporting how dances are produced and interpreted. Here, we discuss how new information on the functions of the central complex (CX) of the insect brain might shed some light on possible neural mechanisms of dance behaviour. We summarise the features of dance communication across the species of the genus Apis. We then propose that neural mechanisms of orientation and spatial processing found to be supported by the CX may function in dance communication also, and that this mechanistic link could explain some specific features of the dance form. This is purely a hypothesis, but in proposing this hypothesis, and how it might be investigated, we hope to stimulate new mechanistic analyses of dance communication.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4339-4346
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
    Issue number23
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


    • Apis
    • Central complex
    • Ellipsoid body
    • Exaptation
    • Optic flow
    • Orientation


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