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The Buzz about the Bee: Language and Vibroacoustic Signals Revealed

In ancient Egypt, honey bees held a position of great reverence, with religious and spiritual significance attributed to them. These industrious insects were even considered symbols of royalty and were frequently depicted in hieroglyphs alongside pharaohs. The ancients observed that through buzzing, quivering, leaning, and turning, bees convey remarkably accurate information.

Bees in Ancient Egypt

Honeybees utilize a fascinating form of communication involving vibroacoustic signals. These signals play a crucial role in modulating behaviors related to swarming and the queen’s behavior during such events.

Scientists have identified subtle differences in honeybees’ body movements and vibrations, including behaviors like waggling, knocking, stridulating, stroking, jerking, grasping, piping, trembling, and antennation. Among these, the waggle dance stands out as an intricate symbolic system. Initially considered mere communication, Austrian ethologist Karl von Frisch insisted on referring to it as language.

Bee Vibration and Sound Signals

Bees utilize vibrations and sound signals to communicate within their colonies. These signals are produced through various modalities, including gross body movements, wing motions, high-frequency muscle contractions (without wing movements), and pressing their thoraxes against surfaces or other bees.

These vibroacoustic signals play a crucial role in modulating behaviors related to swarming and the queen’s behavior during swarming events. Remarkably, there exists a strict correlation between the frequencies of these signals, the amplitudes detected inside honey bee hives, and the prediction of events like swarming.

Interestingly, observations about honey bees’ sounds date back centuries. Aristotle, living in the third century BC, noted that bees emit a specific continuous sound days before swarming. In the 17th century AD, Charles Butler described queen piping, highlighting the bees’ production of two distinct sounds. Later, Francis Huber discovered that newly born queens emit a sound called “tooting,” while other queens respond with a sound known as “quacking” while still in their cells.

The Waggle Dance: Bees’ Intricate Communication

The Waggle Dance

Bees employ the waggle dance to convey vital information within their colonies, specifically about the distance and location of flowers. During this dance, bees emit a distinctive pulsed sound, with the number of pulses directly proportional to the distance between the colony and the flowers.

Research by Michelsen revealed fascinating details. Contrary to expectations, no vibrations occur during the dance. Instead, all information is transmitted through airborne sounds. The waggle sound, previously identified by Wenner, consists of 20-millisecond pulses at a frequency of 250–300 Hz. Remarkably, when a bee dances just 2 centimeters away, the resulting sound wave reaches a Sound Pressure Level (SPL) of 73 dB.

Worker bees are limited to frequencies below 500 Hz, while queen bees can produce a broader range, including many higher frequencies. Through buzzing, quivering, leaning, and turning, bees communicate precise details. Once a scout bee discovers a food source, she returns to the hive to inform her sisters.

The waggle dance follows a figure-eight pattern: a straight line with wing beats, followed by a circular return without wing movement. This pattern visually encodes the direction to the food source relative to the sun’s position in the sky. The dance’s length corresponds to the bees’ travel distance.

As a lead bee dancer waggles, she aligns her body with gravity and the sun’s position. Subtle variations in dance length, speed, and intensity allow her to provide precise instructions regarding the direction, distance, and quality of the nectar source. Other bees in the hive learn from this dance, using the information to navigate to the nectar-rich locations.

Life within the Electric Fields: The Dance of Bees and Flowers

In the intricate dance of nature, life exists within the planetary electric field, subtly influenced by its invisible forces. Bees not only have a complex system of language for their hive but they also have a complex system for the world around them.

Flowers, brimming with water, are electrically grounded. They carry the same negative charge as the soil from which they emerge. Meanwhile, bees, as they buzz through the air, accumulate a positive charge. This phenomenon likely occurs because tiny electrons are stripped from their surfaces during collisions with dust and particles. When positively charged bees alight upon negatively charged flowers pollen transfer occurs. Attracted by their opposing charges, pollen grains leap from the flower onto the bee, even before it lands.

Although flowers themselves bear a negative charge, they grow into the positively charged air. Their mere presence significantly strengthens the electric fields around them, especially at specific points and edges—like leaf tips, petal rims, stigmas, and anthers. Each flower, based on its unique shape and size, is enveloped by its own distinctive electric field—a secret language that bees intuitively understand. Beyond the visible spectrum of bright colors and the ultraviolet hues we cannot perceive, flowers also emit invisible electric halos.

Bumblebees possess tiny, sensitive hairs that detect air currents. When these hairs quiver, they trigger nervous signals. Remarkably, the electric fields around flowers are potent enough to move the bees themselves. Bees, though vastly different from electric fish or sharks, seem to possess an extended sense of touch, allowing them to detect electric fields. In this symphony of charges and fields, bees and flowers communicate silently, weaving together the fabric of life.

Bees: Nature’s Wise Messengers

Bee signals—buzzing, quivering, leaning, and turning—convey remarkably accurate information. Through this intricate system of signs, bees exchange vital information, coordinate complex behaviors, and form cohesive social groups within their hives. Bees, those hive minded little creatures, offer us valuable life lessons that transcend their buzzing existence.


About the Author

Mohammad Awyan Archaeo-Acoustics & Sound Healing Egypt

Amanda is a double board-certified physician who has been practicing Internal and Lifestyle medicine for over 15 years. She is passionate about supporting non-pharmacologic lifestyle changes to reverse illness and improve wellbeing. Amanda is also a Chopra certified meditation coach and provides spiritual retreats around the world.

Amanda is also an author and entrepreneur. She has published a book called “The Disciple’s Guidebook” which helps readers understand biblical parables and prophecy. Amanda has been working on yoga/mediation equipment to help people continue a daily home practice. She now lives in Egypt with her husband and family.

Embark on a Healing Journey in Egypt! Join Amanda and Mohammad this October to delve into the ancient history of Giza, experience the soothing sands of the Siwa oasis, ascend Mt. Sinai, and explore the depths of the Red Sea—all in a single transformative trip. If your Egypt visit falls outside October, consider a private tour tailored to your schedule, starting at just $31.25 per hour based on availability.

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