Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Democracy in Action: Dancing Honeybees Practice What We Preach

29.09.2010
When honeybees seek a new home, they choose the best site through a democratic process that humans would do well to emulate, according to a Cornell biologist.

In his new book, “Honeybee Democracy,” Thomas Seeley, professor of neurobiology and behavior, describes the elaborate decision-making process that honeybees (Apis mellifera) use when they make the life-or-death choice of a new nesting cavity.

When a hive becomes overpopulated, two-thirds of the worker bees and the old queen leave and gather on a nearby branch. Over the next few days, several hundred scout bees search out 10 to 20 potential sites in hollow trees. Meanwhile back at the swarm, each site gets announced with a dance.

“A scout adjusts how long she dances according to the goodness of the site,” said Seeley. “She has a built-in ability to judge site quality, and she is honest; if the site is mediocre she won't advertise it strongly.”

In turn, other scouts inspect the sites and return to dance for themselves. The best site elicits the most vigorous dances, so its popularity among the scouts grows the fastest. The most popular site is chosen when the number of bees visiting it reaches a critical threshold.

The bee's decision-making process is similar to how neurons work to make decisions in primate brains, Seeley says. In both swarms and brains, no individual bee or neuron has an overview, but with many independent individuals providing different pieces of information the group achieves optimal decision-making. Ants similarly organize themselves to make collective decisions, Seeley said.

“Consistencies like these suggest that there are general principles of organization for building groups far smarter than the smartest individuals in them,” Seeley writes.

Humans can learn much about democratic decision-making by looking at bees, Seeley says. If the members of a group have common interests, such as the bees in a swarm, then the keys to good collective decision-making are to ensure the group contains diverse members and an impartial leader – and conducts open debates.

John Carberry | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.cornell.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Neuronal circuits in the brain 'sense' our inner state
15.07.2020 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Novel test method detects coronavirus in highly diluted gargle samples
15.07.2020 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A new path for electron optics in solid-state systems

A novel mechanism for electron optics in two-dimensional solid-state systems opens up a route to engineering quantum-optical phenomena in a variety of materials

Electrons can interfere in the same manner as water, acoustical or light waves do. When exploited in solid-state materials, such effects promise novel...

Im Focus: Electron cryo-microscopy: Using inexpensive technology to produce high-resolution images

Biochemists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have used a standard electron cryo-microscope to achieve surprisingly good images that are on par with those taken by far more sophisticated equipment. They have succeeded in determining the structure of ferritin almost at the atomic level. Their results were published in the journal "PLOS ONE".

Electron cryo-microscopy has become increasingly important in recent years, especially in shedding light on protein structures. The developers of the new...

Im Focus: The spin state story: Observation of the quantum spin liquid state in novel material

New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices

Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...

Im Focus: Excitation of robust materials

Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class

In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...

Im Focus: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tiny bubbles make a quantum leap

15.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Higher-order topology found in 2D crystal

15.07.2020 | Materials Sciences

Russian scientists have discovered a new physical paradox

15.07.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>