Thomas Seeley to speak at the 2014 CSBA Convention

California State Beekeepers Association  November 5, 2014

Thomas Seeley, a professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University (and a beekeeper) will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 CSBA Annual Convention, Nov. 18-20.

Dr. Seeley will share the results of his study, "A Survivor Population of European Honey Bees Living in the Wild in New York State" at the Research Lunch.

He is one of the leading researchers in the field of Swarm Intelligence, certainly the best specialist of the collective behavior of honeybees (and probably bees in general).

"Choosing the right dwelling place is a life-or-death matter for a honeybee colony," he writes in his book,Honeybee Democracy. "If a colony chooses poorly, and so occupies a nest cavity that is too small to hold the honey stores to survive winter, or that provides it with poor protection from cold winds and hungry marauders, then it will die."

Seeley says: “Swarm intelligence is the solving of a cognitive problem by two or more individuals who independently collect information and process it through social interactions.   With the right organization, a group can overcome the cognitive limitations of its members and achieve a high collective IQ.   To understand how to endow groups with swarm intelligence, it is useful to examine natural systems that have evolved this ability.   An excellent example is a swarm of honey bees solving the life-or-death problem of finding a new home.   A honey bee swarm accomplishes this through a process that includes collective fact-finding, open sharing of information, vigorous debating, and fair voting by the hundreds of bees in a swarm that function as nest-site scouts.”

The third talk by Dr. Seeley "The Bee Hive as a Honey Factory" is about the inner working of a honey bee colony so that it gathers and processes its nectar efficiently, despite tremendous day-to-day differences in nectar availability. An important part of the organization of honey production is the division of labor between foragers, elderly bees who work outside the hive to gather the nectar, and food storers, somewhat younger bees that work inside the hive to process the nectar into honey. We will see how the bees keep the rates of nectar collecting and nectar processing in balance—by means of the tremble dance and stop signal—and so boost the efficiency of a colony’s energy acquisition. (For this talk, he will draw heavily on material reported in his book The Wisdom of the Hive.)

Check out Dr. Seeley's video: Swarm Intelligence in Honey Bees

More about Dr. Seeley on this website: