This thesis describes the development of a honeybee robot for the analysis of the dance communication system of the European Honeybee (Apis Mellifera). “RoboBee” is a tool to find out which of the stimuli produced by a dancing bee are actual signals, i.e. which stimuli are used by the follower bees to decode the message. This dissertation comprises six chapters:
First, I introduce the reader to the motivation, scope and structure of the dissertation.
Then I give a detailed overview of the key aspects of this thesis. Beginning with a short introduction to the history of waggle dance research, I report current views on the function and mechanism of the dance. In this chapter I also report on open questions in our understanding of the communication process. In the second part of the chapter, I list similar systems that were used to imitate the waggle dance. I close the chapter by report on more general examples of robots in behavioral biology.
The following chapter contains description of own preliminary work and experiments prior to building RoboBee. First, I introduce basic methods for keeping bees under experimental conditions. I outline lighting and video recording setups that I used in many works that follow up in later parts of the thesis. Then I specify details of a computer vision algorithm that I developed to track waggle dances in video recordings. Subsequently, I analyze waggle dance trajectories statistically, concluding with a computer model of the dance motion. In the last section, I describe experimental tests for the characterization of the sensory capabilities of honeybees.