Monday, 18 July 2016

Do bees have regional accents? Cardiff University launches scheme to find out

Sarah Knapton, science editor 15 JULY 2016 • 6:00AM


A British summer garden is not complete without the gentle sound of bees, buzzing among the flowers.

But up and down the country the insects may be humming a different tune. Scientists at the University of Cardiff are keen to discover if bees have accents, buzzing at a higher or lower pitch depending on their location.

The buzz associated with bees is produced by the fast vibration of wings, and is most commonly heard when the insects are in mid-flight. They tend to say silent while foraging in plants for pollen and nectar.

But bees also make a catalogue of other noises depending on what is happening in the hive. When under attack , or if interrupted during foraging, they buzz more aggressively. They also make a piping sound when they are getting ready to swarm.

Bees have also been known to rub their back legs together to call missing insects back to the hive, and scientists now think they emit a low hum during "waggle dancing" – a figure of eight movement made on the wall of the hive which shows other members of the colony where the best flowers are growing.

Now researchers are inviting beekeepers to place recorders on their hives to pick up the sounds of the bees so they can pick up regional variations.

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