US-based researchers have discovered how a swarm of honeybees functions as a single collective brain while choosing a new home. US biologists say scouting bees, after returning from their individual search operations, dance to indicate the location of the prospective site as well as its quality. Gradually, only a single dance prevails and the bees move over to their new home. By using advanced video techniques, Thomas Seeley and Susannah Buhrman of Cornell University in New York, USA, have now found out that individual bees rarely switch from one dance to another. Instead, a consensus emerges when all but one of the scouts give up. This allows the swarm to choose the best site, even though the bees, as individuals, do not have the scouts' information about the prospective nesting sites ( Behavorial Ecology and Sociobiology , Vol 45, p19).
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