MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Why do bees all 'hum' on the same note?

Date: Tue May 18 10:23:05 2004
Posted By: Elsa Cade, Science Education Instructor/entomologist
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 1084453370.Zo

Well the note that comes from the honey bee is caused by the rapid beating of it's wings. Honey bees are the species Apis mellifera and grow to a size that is average for that species. So similar sized wings give you similar note. Each bee sounds like her sister! A different "note" would indicate an intruder at the nest or a predatory wasp or robber fly nearby in the trees. If you want to know more check out Why Bees Hum at

And lots more on bees at

Buzzz Buzzz

Admin note (added by Rob Campbell)
The sound that bees make is indeed related to the frequency that they beat their wings at. That frequency does vary a bit (e.g. see this search) and it probably depends on the species, temperature, and a lot of other things. If a swarm of bees is fairly similar (from the same species, hive, etc), then they might make a pretty similar noise. There's bound to be some variation, but would be less noticible in a swarm.

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