Not Such Bumblebees
“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.”
Scientists have long known that honeybees communicate the location of nectar sources to their nest mates. The language that many species use has even been deciphered. At the same time, it was long accepted that bumblebees did not communicate the location of food resources to their nest mates. After all, it is astonishing enough that a supposedly simple creature like the honeybee had mastered the advanced skill of communication, but can even simpler bees communicate?
Research reveals that there are at least several species of bumblebees and other stingless bees that communicate among themselves. As might be expected, the languages differ from species to species. One species of bumblebee reports her find to her nest mates by running zigzag over the combs and bumping into her nest mates. This leads them to check out the quality of the nectar she just returned. If she has brought several good loads in, they join her in bringing in more. Other species lay scent trails to the food source. When a member of another species finds a good source, she communicates to her nest mates through a series of pulsing buzzes. As she communicates the height of the source by the speed of the pulses, she performs a circular dance that communicates the rest of the instructions.
The Bible is accurate when it says that the entire creation can offer God praise. The languages may differ; the form of communication may not even look like communication to us. But now we know that since communication is a gift from God, even so called simple creatures can be given the gift by their Creator.
Father, I, too, praise and thank You for the gift of communication. Amen.
Susan Milus, “Look Who’s Dancing”, Science News, 4/3/99, v. 155, p. 216. Photo: Bumblebee. Courtesy of Alvesgaspar. (CC-BY-SA 3.0)