It's abacuses all the way down.
Careful observers have decoded the honeybee's waggle dance.
It's a vector message. The dancer is telling her hivemates about a good source of honey. She repeatedly forms a figure-8 pattern, with the message in the middle.
The direction of the dance is relative to the main honeycomb wall of the hive. The angle between the central motion line and the wall represents the vector of the food source relative to the sun.
Transposing the viewed dance to a position on the bee's internal compass is complex, but using the memorized template can be hardwired in an insect with compound eyes that cover most of the compass.
The template is assigned to one radial set of lenses, and the bee keeps the sun centered on that group of lenses.
The distance component of the vector is conveyed by the number of waggles in each central run.
This reminds me of the glial abacus
that keeps track of numbers in short-term memory. Astrocyte cells serve as a kind of scorecard or abacus outside of the neurons. The neurons click up the astrocytes, and when the number of raised beads reaches a threshold the neurons tell the body to stop swimming or flying.
Let's try to imagine how this feels to a forager bee watching the dance.
Polistra has a hive near the mill...
Looking downward inside the hive we see one scout telling one forager about her find:
The forager observes the direction of the dance with respect to the hive, and forms a template for where the sun should be when she's flying.
Taking the important part in slow motion:
Each waggle ticks up the beads of her astrocyte abacus. For a simple animation we'll assume she's a Babylon Bee who counts in base 60. For each of these five waggles she brings in one 12-bead astrocyte. The total of all the counters tells her how many wingflaps she needs. (Obviously the real multiple of wingflaps per waggle would be far more than 12.)
She then launches out of the hive and turns until the actual sun matches the template position supplied by the dance. As she flies, each wingflap clicks down a bead. When the astrocytes have all reached threshold, she's there.
= = = = =
Even better: The clover is also an abacus!
What looks like a blossom is actually a cluster (inflorescence) of a few dozen tiny florets. Each 'spike' is a complete little flower, with a green cup (calyx) containing a white crown (corolla).
Why are some pointing down? Those are the florets that have already been touched by a pollinating insect. The clover detects the touch and removes nutrition from that floret, allowing it to drop down and turn brown.
Labels: bee, Grand Blueprint, Smarty-plants