Number warning: for those who don’t like data analysis; read another post.
I’ve written about the data I’ve collected from the chipped bees at Foriade 2012, Venlo, Netherlands.
I spotted quite soon that some bees seemed to go out and in together – Marjon and Wilke being the first pair I spotted. I soon realised that this buddy behaviour was quite common – and I think it was Emily heath who pointed to similar comments being made in the Buzz about bees book.
However, the story gets more curious and I wonder whether there is a spurious relationship?
The first time I saw either Wilke or Marjon go out without the other I assumed death for a few seconds – then I noticed that one went out and within a minute the other came in. Checking the data this was not an aborted trip as the partner had been in the hive for 40 minutes. Then I noticed that the majority of of intervals between flights were of the order of 40 minutes. For Marjon and Wilke their outside trips were also running at a duration of about 40 minutes. At some stage a partnership that had endured a few days had ‘flipped’ so one was coming as another was going. Then the next day or so – they were back together in sequence. I’ve seen this flipping for other pairs where I have seen a link – a track record of flying seemingly together and then suddenly one is coming in at more or less the same minute the other goes out. I’m enjoying all my data gathering but as it increases in volume it is harder to find specific details – and then if I spend too much time looking at the data at the same time as capturing it I miss a few entrances and exits but I will try and paste some examples. I am now trying to put in an extra column to the right of the data the number of minutes between the in and out trips. (If the data indicates a bee is going out then the minutes to the right will be the time it was inside and vice versa)
Marjon and Wilke have just returned as I write
|Flight id:||Bee name:||Status:||Time:|
Here is data about a ‘flipped’ sequence a couple of days ago
|103396||Maja||in||17:13||103394||Marjon||out||17:12||NB Marjon and Wilke in/out|
I first saw Marjon and Wilke in sequence right at the beginning of June. Since then I have witnessed them out of sequence for a time; back in sequence for a time; out of sequence again including a flip where to within a minute or two one was going out whilst the other was going in and back in sequence once more.
When I spot a ‘pairing’ or even a ‘trio’ of bees acting in sequence they invariably carry on for a while (days) and most seem to experience ‘flipping’.
It made me think about our journeys to work. Whether we travel by train or car, we start to identify others who travel the same route (or sometimes the reverse route) not because they know us but because they have a similar work pattern. If people travelling on the London tube were tagged (PLEASE can someone do this – well, I guess privacy laws won’t allow!) and someone watched the data, they may attribute friendship to people who just had the same travel pattern. As I mused further on this I realised that though often the trips indicated the chipped pairs arrived at exactly the same time, often it differed by a minute (which I put down to rounding up) and at times even more. Bees are very small so a whole minute between arrivals and perhaps – just perhaps- they were not travelling together at all – they were just driven by a common theme. Perhaps they were foraging the same crop. Perhaps they have a sort of inner clock. Our inner clock is driven heavily by the whole business of light and dark – night and day – we get jet lag when this is changed. The bees are happy in the dark (even though they appear to navigate by the sun) – so perhaps there body clock influences are completely different from our own?
Obviously if I collect data rigorously over an hour, at the end of that hour I can start to see those bees who have foraging journeys or hive residence of about 40 minutes or so. To be able to spot longer foraging journeys, I need to monitor for much longer and try not to miss too many journeys in that time. this is not only difficult, it is somewhat antisocial and anti-housework or other duties!
However, I have had periods where I have spotted that there are quite a few bees doing journeys of about 40 minutes; another lot doing journeys of 66 minutes and another few doing journeys of either 106 or 116 minutes (I was tired and I think my brain meant my arithmetic was wrong). Observing pollen loads from my own bees it always seemed to me they tried to have loads from about three different plants coming in at any one time (different coloured pollens). This seems to have some implications when bees are moved so that they produce monofloral honey. Inevitably it draws the mind to what we would be like if we had just one thing in our diets – but I know that my previous assumptions are dangerous and these are positively a leap into the unknown. I still think that trying to put a context to the data is worth doing.
Over the next few days I am going to try really hard to try and establish whether trip durations do seem to divide into a few common times and also whether a bee that starts out travelling for 40 minute trips later progresses to 60 minute trips.
Anyone still reading? I’ll post some data about some more of the pairs I have spotted.
Jenny and Naomi are currently a pair (Jenny always behind Naomi);
around the 6th and 7th June, toos, Ada and Dana were often together with journeys of about 40 minutes and some flipping:
Here’s another little group on much longer trips
some – like Petra – seem to forage for just 27 minutes at a time – but she is more often on the late evening /night shift so I have less data on her. Look at the data yourself to see if you spot any of these characters! http://www.nspyre.nl/rfibee/ click on the timetable tab
Sorry there aren’t many pictures on this post.
How appropriate – just seen Wilke and Marjon set off
|They’d been in the hive since 12.36/ 12.37 as I started this post so 40 minutes kip or house duties between trips?
STOP Press Jenny and Naomi just flipped