The function of the honey bee tremble dance and how it attracts signal receivers is poorly understood. We tested the hypothesis that tremble followers and waggle followers exhibit the same dance following behavior. If correct, this would unify our understanding of dance following, provide insight into dance information transfer, and offer a way to identify the signal receivers of tremble dance information. Followers showed similar initial attraction to and tracking of dancers. However, waggle dancers were faster than tremble dancers, and follower forward, sideways, and angular velocities were generally similar to the velocities of their respective dancers. Waggle dancers attracted followers from 1.3-fold greater distances away than tremble dancers. Both follower types were attracted to the lateral sides of dancers, but tremble followers were more attracted to the dancer's head, and waggle followers were more attracted to the dancer's abdomen. Tremble dancers engaged in 4-fold more brief food exchanges with their followers than waggle dancers. The behaviors of both follower types are therefore relatively conserved. Researchers can now take the next steps, observing tremble followers to determine their subsequent behaviors and testing the broader question of whether follower attraction and tracking is conserved in a wide range of social insects.
Dancing attraction: followers of honey bee tremble and waggle dances exhibit similar behaviors