10.3 Measuring dance-related parameters

Audio and video recordings (Fig. 21B) have been the most common procedures for registering in-hive behaviours. Nowadays, however, alternative visual techniques such as thermographic recordings (Stabentheiner and Hagmüller, 1991; Farina and Wainselboim, 2001) and high-speed video analysis (Tautz et al., 1996) are much more common and accessible. Thermal recordings provide the instantaneous temperature of the experimental bee, even if it is inside the nest. This data could give valuable information on the activity level and/or on the motivation of the dancer and its followers (Fig. 21C).

A suitable procedure to analyse focal bees (dancers/followers) is to mark them individually (see section 2.3). Bees can be marked directly at the feeder. Data can be processed and different behaviours can be quantified by using commercial or free software packages. Once quantified, some dance-related parameters can be used to infer the responsiveness of the dancers, the effect of the social surrounding and the feeding sites exploited by the colony. What follows is a list of suggested parameters useful to approach these questions from different angles.

10.3.6 Dance attractiveness