• queen bee: A woman who has a dominant or controlling position in a particular group or sphere
  • hive mind: A notional entity consisting of a large number of people who share their knowledge or opinions with one another, regarded as producing either uncritical conformity or collective intelligence.

Don't let these phrases fool you. Bees have been terribly misrepresented by these stereotypes. In reality, bee decision-making is much more complex than mindlessly following the wills of a singular ruler. In fact, the queen isn't much of a leader at all!

Dance Dance Democracy

Instead, honey bees communicate with one-another to collectively make decisions. And they do this by dancing!

Click and hold to waggle dance.
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Sometimes bees have to make important decisions that affect the whole colony like where to move to build a new hive. Scouts investigate the hive site options and dance the directions to their sisters to tell them where to go check out.

Direct the bees with your waggle dance.
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The honey bee's waggle dance is contains a lot of information. The orientation and duration of the waggle communicates the direction and distance of the potential hive site.

Send 6 scouts to check out the oak tree. (pending)
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Dance-Off Decision-Making

Not all options are created equal. The bees use their dance-based democracy to decide which site to actually move to for their new hive.

note: honeybees operate in a "unitary democracy" meaning that all the bees share a common interest.

Honey bee scouts advocate for specific site locations by repeating their dance for more bees to see. They indicate the quality of the sites they're dancing for with vigor and repetition. The more vigorous repetitions of a bee's dance, the better the site.

Watch the bee dance-off in action. (pending)
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