Giant honeybees don’t have stadiums and they don’t play football. But they do the Mexican wave because it’s too cool to leave for only humans to do.
Shimmering is what it’s called. And the wave, done by raising their abdomens in a flash, can travel among hundreds or thousands of bees in a colony, in just a second.
When they get themselves into it, bees do it better than humans – faster and with greater purpose than just beauty or amusement. Who said they do it just because it’s cool?
Research by scientists has established that the bees use it to ward off predators that want to pick off and eat some of them or cause damage to their hive and steal some honey. Apparently, keeping the nest a safe haven is high up on the priorities of the giant honeybee.
In one such study, hundreds of episodes where bees performed the wave in front of hornets, were analysed. The scientists found that a predatory hornet flying towards a giant honeybee hive triggers shimmering among the bees. The bees’ Mexican wave is related to the speed and the nearness of the approaching predator.
Accordingly, when a hornet meets the colony of bees shimmering, they avoid it and go look for something else to eat. If the hornet still wants to eat a bee, then it turns to bees flying outside on duty, away from the nest. This reinforces the giant honeybee’s motive of keeping the nest a safe zone.
Bees don’t do it against just tiny fliers like hornets. They also do it to warn bigger animals.
So, courtesy of giphy, that’s what bees’ Mexican wave looks like.