We investigated the role of the vibration signal in the house-hunting process of honey bee swarms. The vibration signal acts as a modulatory communication signal that may help coordinate many aspects of house hunting. We established test and control swarms to evaluate whether the removal of bees that produced vibration signals would affect: (1) scouting and recruitment for nest sites; (2) the length of time required to select a new nest site; (3) the length of time required to achieve liftoff of the swarm once a site had been choosen, and (4) the successful movement of the swarm to the selected site. The removal of vibrating bees from the test swarms was associated with a significant increase in the time required for liftoff once a nest site had been choosen. Also, removal of vibrators caused some swarms to abort liftoff or fail to successfully move to the selected nest site once liftoff occurred. Removal of vibrators did not affect recruitment for nest sites or the total time required for house hunting. The vibration signal may therefore help to coordinate the liftoff and mass movement of a swarm to a new nest site.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Apidae Apis mellifera (honey bee)
Keywords: nest-site selection, modulatory communication
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