A Study of Adaptation in Social Life By Thomas D. Seeley
The honeybee is a wonderful example of adaptation. In this it resembles all forms of life, but because it is an extremist its adaptations are striking. The honeybee’s waggle dance, with which forager bees share information about the locations of new patches of flowers, is unsurpassed among animal communication systems in its capacity for coding precise yet flexible messages. Honeybee workers display an extraordinarily elaborate division of labor by age, switching their labor roles at least four times as they grow older. When a honeybee colony needs a new home, several hundred scout bees comb some 100 square kilometres of forest, discover a few dozen possible nest cavities, and harmoniously choose the best dwelling place through a sort of plebiscite. In winter, the thousands of honeybees in a colony form a tight, well-insulated cluster and pool their metabolic heat fuelled by about 20 kilograms of honey stores-to keep warm despite subfreezing temperatures, a method of winter survival which is unique among insects. The honeybee, then, has an extremely elaborate social life. It is therefore an unusually rewarding subject for eco-logical studies of social behaviour.
A Study of Adaptation in Social Life
By Thomas D. Seeley
Princeton Legacy Library