Honeybees: The cognitive map concept

       Database:    Between 2011 and 2017 we recorded more than 17 million honeybee dance patterns in observation hives at four different locations.
                    The dancer's waggle run codes the vector to the food source with respect to the azimuth of the sun over the course of the day.
                    The dance follower reads the waggle run pattern modulated by the pendulum and stores the vector message in its cognitive map memory.
                    The vector message finds its way into different parts of the animal's memory using the pendulum frequency as its own address operator.
                    A fixed built-in Fourier network helps to address and compress the vector information for the cognitive map memory. Using the same Fourier network
                    in reverse mode helps to rebuild the time series of the original dance pattern. This allows the recruit to dance for the same food source.

        Recording method: The animal emanates electric fields which are recorded by a remote electrode. The voltage of the preamplifiers' output gives a fraction of the bee's voltage.
                  The frequency scale is limited to 3000 Hz of the 44Khz/24bit audio signal stored on harddrives. The signal is digitally filtered for the low frequency response
                  to emphasize the movements of the abdomen .
Movie 1   Signals from the bee's abdomen during a waggle run.
The animal emanates electric fields recorded by a remote electrode connected to an AC-preamplifier.

Signal trace from the 2 Hz - 44 khz AC-preamplifier (green)
The preamplifier's input is connected to the white wire of the shielded cable. The black wire serves as a shield and ground.

Note: Distortion of the signal is caused by a varying
distance to the electrode and other bees in the surroundings..


 dance follower

dance follower

Transmission link:

The strength of all stimuli depends on the nearest line between the dancer's abdomen and the antenna of the dance followers. Odor, sound and ESF follow the 1/distance2 rule and are modulated in the pendulum's plane of oscillation. This results in a steep signal gradient and causes a strong "1st harmonic". Light reflexes from the surface of the abdomen are received in the fovia of the complex eye.

 transmission bar
 vibrating octave bees ESF signal trace + sonogram All four stimulus modalities
are modulated by the


simultaneously in the

transmission link
The dancer's message:

As a consequence of the pendulum not only the vector information towards the outdoor food source but also its odor is coded. In addition, the context information of the dance on the comb, i.e. light, sound and electrostatic body charge, are equally pendulum coded.

        Note: The voltage scale reflects the preamplifiers' output and gives a fraction of the bee's voltage. The frequency scale is limited to 3000 Hz of the 44Khz/24bit audio
                  signal. The digitally filtered low frequency response is plotted on top of each sonogram to display and emphasize the movements of the abdomen. The sonograms
                  reveal the pronounced harmonics, which enhance the redundancy of the base frequency.




The relationship between relative stimulus intensities as a function of the distance to the dancer.


Notice that the distance of a dancing bee's abdomen and the flagellae of dance-following bees lies in the range of 0.5 to 4 mm. The temporal course of the plotted functions runs from 1 to 2.




        Vibrating "octave" bees: Honeybees dancing for a rich food source like trees or even the high-rewarding feeder in our experiments use their wings for whirring
                  additionally to the waggling of their abdomen. Now the hanging pendulum, the inverse pendelum and the wing vibrations affect the elasticity and forces of the
                  legs keeping the dancer in position on the frame. The frequency response from both pendula is now swinging from the lowest frequency to the highest
                  frequency, which marks the "octave" much like a very strong "vibrato" well known in string instruments. The Fourier network resolves all three frequency                   components and stores the vector for rich food sources in different spaces of the cognitive map memory co-located to the normal vector information.
 vibrating octave bees ESF signal trace + sonogram


"octave" bees

        Beep and stop tones: Worker bees transmit sounds in the range of 200 to 500 Hz lasting 200 to 500 ms throughout the day, even at night.
                  The mechanism of its production is unknown and its function in the social context is not properly explained.
                  Due to the higher frequency these sounds may also be a strong component of the communication by air velocity.
                  Again the pronounced harmonics enhance the redundancy of the base frequency.
 beep tones ESF signal trace + sonogram
beep and stop tones

of worker bees