Many animals and insects have built-in compasses, honey bees are one of them. Magnetism or propioception is the term used to describe the use of tiny receptors in the honey bees neck. Besides helping him to find his way home, he uses these receptors to determine which way is up and which way is down. In other words, it enables him to fly upright. These receptors make the honey bee more sensitive to the magnetism of the earth, even more so than pigeons or dolphins. This makes it possible to find his way back to the hive.
This homing sense receptor as well as tiny magnetic crystals in the bee’s abdomen are used in building the honey comb of a new hive. If a strong magnet or a device which causes magnetic force is placed next to a hive under construction, it will be built off kilter into a long cylindrical shape. Scientists have found it difficult to determine completely how bees find their way home, yet they think it may be a combination use of their senses.
One theory regarding the disappearance of honey bees (Colony Collapse Disorder) is directly related to the bee’s magnetic abilities being disturbed by cell phone and HAARP emissions of electromagnetic radiation. Thus confusing the bees, making it difficult or impossible for them to find their way back to the hive, and so die.
Sense of Smell
Scientists have discovered that honey bees have a sense of smell. Besides one of the ways they locate flowers, bees that guard the hive smell incoming bees. If they do not have the hive odor, they are not allowed in. Bees also produce pheromones. The queen bee produces a sex pheromone, a scent, when she is trying to attract drones to mate with. She also has a different pheromone known as the “queens substance” that she uses to keep control over the bees of her hive.
When a bee stings in emit’s an “alarm” odor that other bees can smell and be warned. It only makes sense that honey bees would use their sense of smell to find their way home to the hive as part of their homing sense.
Sense of Hearing
Bees don’t hear as humans do. They are sensitive to certain vibrational frequencies which they sense through their legs and antennae. The leg organs hear frequencies transmitted by the queen bee through the hive honey comb. The antennae function as tuning forks picking up certain frequencies. The antennae lower sections is sensitive to the frequency of the “waggle dance” (about 20 beats per second). The waggle dance is used to communicate the location and distance of food from bee to bee. The upper parts of the antennae are sensitive to the frequency the queen bee uses to control the bees when swarming, about 250 to 300 beats per second.
These are only the frequencies of which science is aware. Isn’t it possible the bee uses his sense of “hearing” to detect the vibration of his hive (queen bee) to find his way home?
Sense of Sight
It is unlikely that the honey bee uses his sense of sight to find his way back to the hive. With two compound eyes and three simple eyes, it would seem he should be able to see better than humans, not so. Although, he is able to see motion much better than us, probably a self preservation feature. His eyes collect light from slightly different directions. He can also see certain colors on of which is called “bees purple,” a mixture of yellow and ultraviolet. His color sense helps him to locate flowers. However, he cannot see the color red
Honey bees, up to current times, have remained unchanged for 20 million years. Now, although their physiology is unchanged, their ability to continue in their normal existence seems to be changing. They are disappearing at an alarming rate. There may be many theories as to the reason. And perhaps there demise can be blamed on a combination of things, all caused by human behavior. They are responsible for 80% of vegetable, fruit and seed crop in the U.S. We all know about it, we all listen and then go about our business. We have learned to be apathetic about much of life and the honey bee plight is no exception. We need to wake up. They are the proverbial canary in the mine. And the canary is dieing.