Honeybees Do Puzzling 'Wave' to Scare Enemies

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2008 8:00 PM CDT
The queen is marked with yellow paint in one of the hives of honeybees kept by Ronnie Henk in Toano, Virginia, on July 14, 2005.   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – Honeybees flip over en masse and reflect light with their bellies for a reason, scientists have found: It's to scare off enemies. Bee experts knew that giant honeybees in Southeast Asia flipped over by the hundreds or even thousands but only recently discovered they were warding off predatory wasps. What scientists don't know is how thousands of bees communicate fast enough to flip over in unison in 800 milliseconds.

"If you think of people doing the Mexican wave in football stadiums, it takes several seconds, even 10 seconds or longer for that wave to come around the football stadium," one author of the study told LiveScience. "The horizontal span of a honeybee nest can well reach 2 meters. The topic of my further expeditions is to find out how they communicate so quickly."