As we lead up to bonfire night, I'm sure lots of you have stocked up on some fireworks for the occasion. However, have you thought about how bees deal with all this noise!!
Did you know that even though bees don't have ears, they can still hear sounds? How does this work?
This is proven by the research of Towne and Kirchner in 1989, where through a series of mild electric shocks, they were able to train their bees to leave the feeder when they heard a sound signal. Kirchner then expanded his research in 1991, to an experiment that focused on training bees to turn left or right at the entrance of their feeder by using sound signals. Impressive right!
How do bees hear certain sounds?
- Bees antenna: the Johnston organ, which is located on the second end of a bees antenna, allows them to convert sound to neural impulses
- Body hair: Bees body hair is very sensitive and therefore can pick up sound too.
- Their legs: sound vibrations are picked up by organs in the legs, called subgenual organs.
Honey bees use sound as part of how they communicate with fellow bees. The piping and buzzing sounds they create are picked up by other bees around them.
Piping is made by virgin and mated queen bees during certain times of the virgin queens' development. It is thought that piping is a form of battle cry announcing to competing queens and reveals to other worker bees that the queen is ready to fight. Buzzing sounds are mainly made by the buzzing of their wings. These sounds can change how the colony act in that moment. Bee can also make sounds via a little dance known as the Waggle dance. This includes vibrating their wings and waggling their abdomen.
Therefore, even though bees don't have ears, they might still be affected by all the fireworks popping off around them via vibrations.