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Bee colonies have absolutely no room for slackers, period. Everyone has a distinct role and purpose, whether they're workers, drones or queens. Boredom is a concept that simply doesn't exist in the bee world -- and definitely not for scout bees. Scout bees are a type of worker bee.
The prominent role of a scout bee entails discovering new access to food. To do this, they sometimes travel over a mile away from their hives. Scout bees venture out into their surroundings to carefully scour for food, from the interior of caves to the openings into buildings. Once they finally get back from these quests, they dutifully inform their fellow bees of the available sustenance. In looking for new residences for their swarms, worker bees also ponder a lot of criteria regarding uprooting everyone, from the size of the entrances to distance away from the ground. If a spot is too close to the ground, it might become susceptible to pesky intrusion from other bugs, for example. Worker bees also carefully consider defense against the elements, whether intense winds or snow.
Bees don't exactly speak in words, and because of that have no choice but to communicate in other ways. Scout bees express their exciting food finds by dancing. These dances exist in two distinctive types. A detailed swinging and swaying dance indicates exactly how far away everything is -- all based on the sun. A circular dance expresses, happily enough, that the food is right by the hive. Rapid dances signify nearby sustenance. Slower ones, on the other hand, indicate somewhat of a trek.
Focus on Trees and Flowers
Scout bees diligently fly around looking for food in desirable spots, namely in trees that are empty inside. They also do a lot of searching amid clusters of flowers. The goal of scout bees on these hunts is to be attentive to the presence of ample pollen and nectar.
Scout bees also give off valuable details about the new food stashes via smell. Not only do they dance to explain to the others where the food is all waiting, they express it through smelling like the flowers and sugary nectar.
- The University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Honey Bee Dances
- University of Illinois ACES: Bees - The Individual and the Colony
- The Biology of the Honey Bee; Mark L. Winston
- eXtension: Sequence of Duties of Worker (Basic Bee Biology for Beekeepers)
- York County Beekeepers' Association: Bee Swarming Season
- Smithsonian Environmental Research Center: Bee Bop
- University of Kentucky Entomology: Controlling Nuisance Honey Bees
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beekeeping and Apiculture: Honey Bee Swarms
- The Science of Animal Agriculture; Ray V. Herren
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images