The Wisdom of the Hive

The Wisdom of the Hive

The Social Physiology of Honey Bee Colonies

eBook - 1995
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Harvard University Press

This book is about the inner workings of one of nature's most complex animal societies: the honey bee colony. It describes and illustrates the results of more than fifteen years of elegant experimental studies conducted by the author. In his investigations, Thomas Seeley has sought the answer to the question of how a colony of bees is organized to gather its resources. The results of his research--including studies of the shaking signal, tremble dance, and waggle dance, and other, more subtle means by which information is exchanged among bees--offer the clearest, most detailed picture available of how a highly integrated animal society works. By showing how several thousand bees function together as an integrated whole to collect the nectar, pollen, and water that sustain the life of the hive, Seeley sheds light on one of the central puzzles of biology: how units at one level of organization can work together to form a higher-level entity.

In explaining why a hive is organized the way it is, Seeley draws on the literature of molecular biology, cell biology, animal and human sociology, economics, and operations research. He compares the honey bee colony to other functionally organized groups: multicellular organisms, colonies of marine invertebrates, and human societies. All highly cooperative groups share basic problems: of allocating their members among tasks so that more urgent needs are met before less urgent ones, and of coordinating individual actions into a coherent whole. By comparing such systems in different species, Seeley argues, we can deepen our understanding of the mechanisms that make close cooperation a reality.


This book describes and illustrates the results of more than 15 years of elegant experimental studies conducted by the author to investigate how a colony of bees is organized to gather its resources. The results of his research offer the clearest, most detailed picture available of how a highly integrated animal society works.

Book News
Details the inner workings of the honey bee colony, drawing on 15 years of experimental studies conducted by the author. Draws on the literature of biology, sociology, and operations research to explain hive organization, and compares the honey bee colony to other functionally organized groups such as multicellular organisms, colonies of marine invertebrates, and human societies. Includes b&w drawings and a few b&w photos. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1995
ISBN: 9780674043404
0674043405
9780674953765
0674953762
0140263098
9780140263091
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xiv, 295 pages) : illustrations (some color)

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