Bees have amazing cognitive capabilities. The scouts explore and learn the terrain and build up a highly detailed neuronal representation of the surrounding environment. Once back in the hive, locations are communicated to others by translating location information into body movements; a behavior known as waggle dance. In our experiments with a honeybee robot we noticed that some foragers seem to prefer certain nestmates in the process of decoding the dance. Do bees form stable “peer groups” throughout their lives? What determines that one bee becomes a “friend”?

In the past, answering those questions was very laborious. Biologists would sit in front of an observation hive, keeping track of single marked bees and take note with whom they dance. We are taking this analysis to the next level. We develop a system which allows tracking every single individual inside the hive. We use unique tags to mark each bee and develop a machine vision system to find every bee in the hive. We can then tell which bees are communicating one with whom and where and how long and so on. The analysis of the complete social network has never been done previously. We are happy to work with our partner Zuse Institut Berlin where all our data (~700 Terabyte) is stored and analyzed on a supercomputer.


Tim Landgraf, Benjamin Wild, Fernando Wario, Leon Sixt, Sascha Witte, Maria Sparenberg, Franziska Lojewski, Lukas Kairies, Franziska Boehnisch, David Dormagen, Jonas Piotrowski, Alexa Schlegel, Kadir Tugan

Former student members (thank you!): Simon Wichmann, Balduin Laubisch, Amjad Saadeh, Christian Tietz, Mareike Ziese, Alexander Rau, Benjamin Rosemann,


The Northgerman Supercomputing Alliance (HLRN) granted us storage and computing resources to process massive amounts of image data.

Latest posts in BeesBook

Ben and Leon @ ICLR 2017 (4/26/2017) Posted in: BeesBook, Machine Learning, News, Talks and Presentations - Solving problems in Machine Learning very often relates to the question how to represent the data. While in the past most problems Read More
Tracking System Improved! (9/13/2016) Posted in: BeesBook, General, News - Our master student Jakob Mischek just finished his work on our tracking system which just got way better. Check out Read More
New Image Processing Pipeline Finished! (9/12/2016) Posted in: BeesBook, General, News, Uncategorized - Our team member Leon Sixt has developed a new image processing component for the decoding of bee markers. The method Read More
BeesBook: Live Hive Life! (7/15/2016) Posted in: Announcement, BeesBook, General, News - Get a drink and a bowl of popcorn. As of now you can watch our bees live! We are launching Read More
Methods-Paper on BeesBook-System Published (9/25/2015) Posted in: BeesBook, General, New Paper, News, Publication - We just published the first tracking system for honeybee colonies in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. Thanks to the HLRN Read More
New article on the honeybee dance and BeesBook (3/27/2015) Posted in: BeesBook, General, News, Project in the Media - Raúl Rojas frequently publishes articles on AI and robotics or science in general in Telepolis, a popular German online magazine. Read More
Supercomputing proposal for BeesBook accepted! (9/16/2014) Posted in: Announcement, BeesBook, General, News - We have successfully applied to The North-German Supercomputing Alliance (HLRN) for computing and storage resources. The HLRN grants more than half Read More
Tag Team Action! (7/23/2014) Posted in: BeesBook, General, News - We have marked all bees in our observation hive and the first full-fledged recording season has begun. We are very Read More
Tracking Bees with New Tag Design! (2/13/2014) Posted in: BeesBook, General, News - We changed the design of the binary tags to a circular code. Look below!