Asiatic honeybees make “The Wave” to deter predators

Reader Mehul called my attention to a phenomenon of which I was unaware. It’s amazing too: a “wave” of honeybees in a colony, created to divert or scare away predators. One honey-sipping moth makes it through the bee cloud, but that’s because of another evolutionary trick.

Have a look at this stunning Attenborough segment.


  1. Liz
    Posted January 22, 2019 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Interesting. It reminds me of a murmuration of starlings.

  2. JezGrove
    Posted January 22, 2019 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful. David Attenborough is in Davos right now, trying to persuade the rich and powerful to take action on climate change. Ninety-two and still going strong!

    • rickflick
      Posted January 22, 2019 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Amazing guy. I remember he met with Obama to discus the most important problem facing mankind. What are the chances he’ll sit down with 45?
      Speaking of heat, a large collection of CEOs and other movers and shakers recently signed a document suggesting we tax carbon, proceeds to be refunded to the voters. It’s a sound idea economically and politically. It’s something others, including James Hansen, have pushed for a long time.

  3. Posted January 22, 2019 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place and commented:
    Hiw do they organise the ‘wave’?

    • rickflick
      Posted January 22, 2019 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      I’d think it’s the same as a murmuration of starlings or a school of fish. Each individual bee responds to the bee next to her. I think some assertive SOB actually starts the whole thing off.

    • Christopher
      Posted January 22, 2019 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      Good question. Maybe the same way we humans do at a sporting event? A bee or a few respond to a stimulus, the bees nearest them respond to their response and so on? I’m sure somebody has modeled this and done a cracking study somewhere but I don’t know or have access to the appropriate journals, whatever they may be(e).

    • Posted January 23, 2019 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Bees are both visual (the dance) and do stuff with pheromones …

  4. Posted January 22, 2019 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Sir David Attenborough is a world treasure. I do wish that he could be cloned, with many copies made for generations to come.

    • Neil Wolfe
      Posted January 22, 2019 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      It would be fascinating to see how a hive of Attenboroughs chooses to defend it’s precious honey.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 22, 2019 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      I suspect he’s inspired thousands to work toward emulating him. There must be dozens of little Atties searching the trees and seas by now. When he’s gone others will come.

  5. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted January 22, 2019 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, I knew about the wave but did not know the species of bee. Nor did I have any inkling that the defense could be fooled!

  6. revelator60
    Posted January 22, 2019 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Off topic but certainly of interest to PCC (if he hasn’t already seen it):
    Robert A. Caro has an article in this week’s New Yorker titled “The Secrets of Lyndon Johnson’s Archives” (
    PCC should find it interesting, since he regards Caro’s (still in progress) biography of Johnson one of best political biographies of all time.

    • Posted January 22, 2019 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for this; Jerry’s posts led me to Caro’s work and Caro’s excellent talk on YouTube. I look forward to reading the article you linked to. LBJ really is a much more interesting character than I ever knew.

      • Posted January 22, 2019 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        Well, I finished it. Extraordinary. Thank you.

  7. Mark R.
    Posted January 22, 2019 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting. I wonder how big a predator/intruder these bees could take down. I’m allergic; I wouldn’t last long.

  8. Mark Joseph
    Posted January 22, 2019 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Whoa! A moth that emits a bee pheromone so that it can pass as a bee!? Checkmate, creationists!

    I just love things that have obvious evolutionary explanations, but which are completely inexplicable as “goddidit”.

  9. Posted January 22, 2019 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Is it just me or does the video have a really low quality?

    • Mark R.
      Posted January 22, 2019 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

      meant to reply to you. 10. comment was reply.

  10. Mark R.
    Posted January 22, 2019 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    It was very blurry and bad audio for me as well…still enjoyable, but something was going on imo.

    • Posted January 23, 2019 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps it was made during the days of bad video? I agree that it was enjoyable nonetheless.


  11. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I wish I could go on a trip, just Attenborough and me, to these kinds of locations.

  12. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    fascinating – this short bit must have taken lots and lots of tedious, red-eye work. I think this is the only way I’ll be able to view long shows – in 5 minute clips. It’d only work with a narration – Planet Earth would be unwatchable I imagine – it might look like a screensaver.

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