Honeybee Democracy

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, Sep 20, 2010 - Science - 280 pages

Honeybees make decisions collectively--and democratically. Every year, faced with the life-or-death problem of choosing and traveling to a new home, honeybees stake everything on a process that includes collective fact-finding, vigorous debate, and consensus building. In fact, as world-renowned animal behaviorist Thomas Seeley reveals, these incredible insects have much to teach us when it comes to collective wisdom and effective decision making. A remarkable and richly illustrated account of scientific discovery, Honeybee Democracy brings together, for the first time, decades of Seeley's pioneering research to tell the amazing story of house hunting and democratic debate among the honeybees.


In the late spring and early summer, as a bee colony becomes overcrowded, a third of the hive stays behind and rears a new queen, while a swarm of thousands departs with the old queen to produce a daughter colony. Seeley describes how these bees evaluate potential nest sites, advertise their discoveries to one another, engage in open deliberation, choose a final site, and navigate together--as a swirling cloud of bees--to their new home. Seeley investigates how evolution has honed the decision-making methods of honeybees over millions of years, and he considers similarities between the ways that bee swarms and primate brains process information. He concludes that what works well for bees can also work well for people: any decision-making group should consist of individuals with shared interests and mutual respect, a leader's influence should be minimized, debate should be relied upon, diverse solutions should be sought, and the majority should be counted on for a dependable resolution.


An impressive exploration of animal behavior, Honeybee Democracy shows that decision-making groups, whether honeybee or human, can be smarter than even the smartest individuals in them.

 

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Informative and interesting

User Review  - cgc4nl - Overstock.com

This book is scientific. It had good illustrations. I found it informative. I had hoped it would be more quotable with more laymans descriptions of the Democratic decision processes. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Betty.Ann.Beam - LibraryThing

A good read for those that are into honeybee research. The study of how a swarm chooses a permanent home was detailed and well done. Research of this topic began around 1930. The latest development of ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
1
1 Introduction
3
2 Life in a Honeybee Colony
20
3 Dream Home for Honeybees
43
4 Scout Bees Debate
73
5 Agreement on Best Site
99
6 Building a Consensus
118
7 Initiating the Move to New Home
146
9 Swarm as Cognitive Entity
198
10 Swarm Smarts
218
Epilogue
233
Notes
237
Acknowledgments
261
Illustration Credits
265
Index
271
Copyright

8 Steering the Flying Swarm
175

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Thomas D. Seeley is professor of biology at Cornell University and a passionate beekeeper. He is the author of The Wisdom of the Hive and Honeybee Ecology (Princeton).

Bibliographic information