The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, December 9th at the vestry of the West Auburn Congregational Church, 811 West Auburn Road, Auburn, ME 04210. Note that we will no longer be meeting at Edward Little High School in Auburn). Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM followed by the presentation “Rich Resources and the Function of the Waggle Dance“.
Our December speaker will be Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Carla Essenberg of Bates College. She completed a BA in Music and Philosophy at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, did her PhD in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at the University of California-Riverside, and recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Arizona. Her research explores ways in which pollinator foraging behavior influences plant ecology and evolution and includes ecological field studies, theoretical modeling, and behavioral experiments with bumblebees. She has taught topics ranging from zoology to environmental biology and enjoys discussing science and bees with people of all ages and walks of life.
In her presentation, Dr. Essenberg will tell a story about how honeybee foraging is and is not different from the foraging of other bee species. She will begin with her doctoral research on how the density of flowers affects which species visit the flowers and how often. She found that honeybees were more frequent visitors in dense flower patches, while other bees visited flowers in sparse patches more often. Other researchers have found similar patterns, suggesting that honeybees may be particularly well adapted to use dense resources. Could the honeybees’ dance language be the explanation?
Dr. Essenberg will discuss work by colleagues who removed honeybee colonies’ ability to use the dance language, in order to find out whether that language was helping them to forage more effectively. Surprisingly, colonies that were unable to communicate locations of rewarding patches often did just as well as colonies that could communicate that information! However, the dance language did help honeybees in some situations, and in particular, it was an advantage when there were rich patches of resources available. Dr. Essenberg will conclude by returning to her question about whether the dance language can explain honeybees’ preference for dense flower patches or whether they might prefer them for other reasons.
Dr. Essenberg’s ABC sponsored presentation is open to the public.