Where Am I and Where Do I Want to Go?
The honeybee colony superorganism is resident to one specific place; therefore, a settled colony leads a sedentary life and has a "permanent address". This is no problem as long as one stays at home. In fact, honeybees do not leave their self-sufficient hive world for the majority of their lives. An influx of matter and energy has to be guaranteed even so. That is why forager bees do not have a choice; when searching for flowers, they have to venture out into the hostile outer world – and then find their way back to the colony after their forays. Once they have identified a yielding accumulation of flowers, they ought to be able to find it again for later flights. In order to navigate outside the hive, the bees use earth-bound and sky-orientated faculties. Using earth-bound faculties, they move along from one waypoint to another. When doing so, they use trees, bushes and other prominent landmarks. Here again the visual and olfactory senses are given overriding importance. This method of path finding requires that the bee be located in a familiar territory where it has fixed the corresponding supporting objects in its memory. To that end, bees go on orientation flights around their hive in order to prepare for their foraging duties. Thus, they familiarize themselves with the appearance of the vicinity near their hive. To move confidently through unknown territory, a compass is extremely helpful. Here the sky is their orientation; bees can make use of the position of the sun. If the sun is covered, the polarisation structure of the sky is used as an aid; the earth's atmosphere polarizes the light beams that emanate from the sun in an arbitrary state of oscillation. Thus, the sky receives an optical structure that serves as a signpost for the bees.
Würzberg's HOBOS Project at the European Teaching Festival
Christoph Bauer knows exactly what students can learn from honeybees. This biology and chemistry teacher has been using HOneyBee...