By placing specialised equipment deep within hives, it is possible to hear bees letting out a rather unusual sound with their vibrating wing muscles. Since the 1950’s, scientists have attempted to uncover what exactly the purpose of a ‘whooping’ sound that bees produce actually is.
It was previously thought that the ‘whoop’ was in response to a bee’s waggle dance (a way to tell other bees where to forage for food), to alert the bee dancing that the foraging location might be unsafe. However, Professor Ramsey’s team at Nottingham Trent University have suggested that the ‘whoop’ might actually be a response to being bumped into by other bees.
The researchers discovered this by placing a vibration sensing device called an accelerometer within the hive, and detected the ‘whoops’ when bees bumped into each other near the sensor. It’s lucky that bees don’t have to commute on the London Underground during rush hour, or there might be trains alive with bumping ‘whooping’ bees!