Scientists have long marveled over the dance of the bee. A little jitterbug seems to reveal to coworkers the location of a distant meal. But how and whether the dance really works has remained controversial. new study confirms the dancing is a form of communication. The central element of the choreography is a shimmy, or waggle, along a straight line. For emphasis, the bee repeats this move several times by circling around in a figure-8 pattern. The angle that the shimmy makes in relation to an imaginary vertical line is the direction to the food source with respect to the sun. For example, a waggle dance pointing towards 3 o’clock is bee talk for: “Hey, there’s food 90 degrees to the right of the sun.”
A solar compass
This solar compass in honeybees was originally observed in the 1960s by the Nobel Prize winner Karl von Frisch. Later, it was noticed that the number of waggles in one figure-8 corresponds to the distance to the meal.