Enismirdal (enismirdal) wrote in university_lon,

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Intro post/Public lecture series

Hey everyone! I've been lurking for a while on this community and thought I'd post now I had something resembling content!

I'm Eni, I'm a first year PhD student at Queen Mary, working on Behavioural and Sensory Ecology and intend to be a mad academic until the day I retire! I'm slightly overobsessed with bees (and wasps), which is probably a good thing as it's what I work on!

So...in case anyone's interested, the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary is running a series of public lectures on Wednesday evenings throughout February. These form the Lesley Goodman lecture series in conjunction with the Royal Entomological Society and are targeted at a general, non-academic audience. The overall theme is the world through the eyes of insects.

Full details here on the QMUL website.

Lectures at 6pm each Wednesday, in the Skeel Lecture Theatre at QMUL. There's plenty of space so it's not really necessary to reserve a place.
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Hmm I study linguistics at UCL, and we have studied the way bees communicate the location of pollen through a "dance". Any interesting wisdom you can impart on that subject?
Depends what wisdom you're after! It's not the area I'm focusing on at present (since my research is currently dealing with bumblebees, which don't dance).

The dance language has been fairly extensively studied and it's generally accepted that it's definitely the bees representing the vector between the hive and the nectar source in a sort of abstract way in the hive that other bees are able to interpret.

Some researchers do claim that it's all to do with pheremones and odour plumes, but really there is definite evidence to suggest that bees can use the information in the waggle dance to find food sources they haven't seen before, and can also use the dance to refresh their memory of food sources they have seen before but haven't visited for a while.

They can also use the dance even on cloudy or overcast days, because bees' eyes can detect patterns of polarised light, and light is polarised in different ways depending on where the sun is in the sky. So even seeing a little patch of clear sky is enough for a bee to figure out where the sun is, and so orient the waggle dance.

Did you have particular questions? This site provides an amusing little game where you get to interpret real, videoed waggle dances to find the flowers!
Thanks! It was something I studied last year, so I was interested in your unique perspective.