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Tuesday, 19 November 2002

This presentation is part of : Display Presentations, Subsection Cb. Apiculture and Social Insects

Structure of vibration signals performed on workers and queens in honey bee colonies

Melissa Williams, Shervin Mirage, and Stan S. Schneider. University of North Carolina, Department of Biology, 9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, NC

The vibration signal of the honey bee functions as a modulatory communication signal, because it elicits a non-specific increase in activity that may help orchestrate many aspects of colony behavior. Vibrations are performed on workers of all ages and on queens during different stages of their lives. It is assumed that the same signal is utilized in all contexts, but this assumption has never been tested. We used slow motion video analysis to compare the duration, oscillation rate and degree of contact between sender and recipient for vibration signals performed on workers (WW signals), the laying queen (LQ signals) and developing queen cells (QC signals). We compared WW signals between two colonies and found significant inter-colony differences for oscillation rate, as well as pronounced inter-individual variability in duration and oscillation rate for the individual vibrators examined in each colony. We found highly significant differences among WW, LQ and QC signals for all aspects of vibration signals examined. WW signals were of longer duration than QC signals, and LQ signals exhibited greater oscillation rates and different degrees of contact compared to signals performed in other contexts. Thus, signal structure varied both within the same context in different colonies, and among contexts within the same colony. Factors contributing to these differences and possible functions of signal variability are discussed.

Species 1: Hymenoptera Apidae Apis mellifera (honey bee)
Keywords: signal variants, modulatory communication

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