The honeybee dance communication system is one of the most intriguing examples of information transfer in the animal kingdom. After returning from a valuable food source honeybee foragers move vigorously, in a highly stereotypical pattern, on the comb surface conveying polar coordinates of the field site to a human observer. After 60 years of intense research it remains still unknown how the bees decode the dance. To resolve this question we have built a robotic honeybee that is able to reproduce all stimuli found to be generated in the dance (). By imitating single stimuli or combinations and tracking the bees’ ensuing behavior we are able to identify essential signals in the communication process. In this paper we describe the design of our current prototype, show how we validated the function of the robotic wing buzzes and propose a reactive behavior control on the basis of relative body configurations of nearby bees measured by custom smart camera modules. We will conclude by showing first promising result of field experiments within a live honeybee colony.
Imitation of the Honeybee Dance Communication System by Means of a Biomimetic Robot