It is a common a belief that as bee colonies getter bigger, more the bees buzzing sound. But the latest study conducted by researchers from Cornell University reports that bigger honey bee colonies make less noise than smaller ones.
Michael Smith, from Cornell University, says, “The surprising result was that—and at first I thought something must be wrong—when there are more bees on the comb, the vibrations are actually reduced”.
Studies reveal that bees vibrate to communicate with other bees among its colonies. They perform a waggle dance to pass the message among the comb regarding the location of flowers. Queen bees also use the same way of dance vibrations to communicate with other queens. But to convey the message vibrations efficiently, the noise in the comb should be reduced.
To study the exact noise level, Smith with the help Po-Cheng Chen who built chips to measure vibrations in three dimensions using an accelerometer. The chip can absorb 800 samples of vibration in one by eight of a second.
Chen and Smith then placed the chip near a comb with different colony size, such as entire colony, half colony etc. They even performed the same studies with an entire colony at different times of a day. The number of bees in and out of a comb varies at a different time a day.
Smith also tested whether combined weight of bees reduces the comb vibration. Plain sheet wiggles more than a piece of paper with paper clips. For this, he added some dead bees to comb to see how it has any effect on vibration. From the detailed research, Smith says the additional bees “had absolutely no effect whatsoever on the comb vibrations, which showed us that the bees are actually doing something to damp these vibrations,”
The research shows that the superorganism such as bees, ants can overcome the physical obstacles in their own ways. The National Science Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Garden Club of America funded the work.
Source: Cornell University
Research paper: DOI: 10.1007/s00265-017-2399-9