House hunting by committee in honey bee swarms: The blind intelligence of distributed decision-making
A swarm of honey bees must locate a new nest cavity rapidly, but also must choose a good one from among an unpredictable array of possible sites its scouts discover. How they do so provides a striking example of a distributed decision making process. The choice is not made by individuals comparing the alternatives, but instead is a collective decision that emerges from an interplay of positive and negative feedback, modulated by qualities of the nest sites and the responses of and signals passed between the bees of a swarm, operating rather blindly of large-scale alternatives. Processes include dances directing increasing numbers of scouts to favorable sites, attrition at less-favored ones, and assessment of when a decision has progressed to a point where vibrational “piping” shifts the process from a decision-making to a decision-implementing phase. Reciprocal inhibition of dance signaling strikingly parallels neurobiological decision-making. It is one of several mechanisms that tune the process, both in ecological and evolutionary time-scales, to achieve a balance between speed and accuracy in the critical task of choosing the best available home for the new colony.
Time & Location
11.09.2017 | 14:00 c.t.
Takustr. 9, SR 006