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Discovery Magazine 3/1/2008

The Amazing Bee Dance

If we want to tell someone how to get to a place, we simply give them directions. We might say that the place is four miles to the south. But how would we give directions if we could not talk or if we could not write in a language with words?

God gave the honeybee a wonderful way to communicate without words. A worker bee that finds pollen and nectar brings them back to the bee hive and passes the food to the other bees. As the worker bee passes out the food, it performs a very special dance. If the food is far away (which it usually is), the bee does a “waggle” dance. During the dance it makes sounds with its wings.

The amazing thing about the dance is that it tells the other bees exactly where the food is. The bee uses the Sun as a reference point. If the bee dances in a straight line to the right, then the food is directly to the right of the Sun. If the bee dances straight up, then the food is straight toward the Sun. If the bee dances straight down the honeycomb, then the food is directly away from the Sun. Furthermore, the sounds that the bee makes as it “waggles” its body from side to side help the other bees know how far away the food is and exactly where to find it.

As you may know, the Sun constantly changes its position in the sky. It moves one degree to the west every four minutes. It just so happens that the bees know that the Sun moves and they can change their dance to help the other bees find the food.

This remarkable “dance language” could not have evolved. Codes and languages such as this must have been programmed into bees by an intelligent Designer. Not only does the bee dance show other bees the way to food, but it shows humans that there is an awesome God who gave the bees an astonishing way to communicate.

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