Dr. Tom D. Seeley: Honeybees in the Wild

Dr. Tom Seeley Beekeeping Today Podcast.jpg
Dr. Tom D. Seeley.jpg

Dr. Tom D. Seeley is a Horace White Professor in Biology at Cornell University where he teaches courses on animal behavior, specializing in understanding the social life of honey bees. His scientific research focuses on the phenomenon of swarm intelligence, which is defined as the solving of cognitive problems by a group of individuals who pool their knowledge and process it through social interactions.

Tom joins Jeff and Kim in this episode to discuss bee hunting (aka: bee lining). He also delves deeper into the topic of his article in the January 2019 Bee Culture on Darwinian Beekeeping.

Tom is a author of several books related to honey bee biology and behavior, including:

The Wisdom of the Hive, 1996
Honeybee Democracy, 2010
Following The Wild Bees: The Craft and Science of Bee Hunting, 2016
The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild, 2019

In the podcast, Tom references his video on the topic of Bee Hunting. You can find it On YouTube. ____________________

We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments: questions@beekeepingtodaypodcast.com

Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at www.beeculture.com

Thank you for listening!

Podcast music: Young Presidents, "Be Strong"

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: 

Honeybee Democracy

Radiowest.kuer.org          By Doug Fabrizio     May 23, 2014

(NYCBeekeeping.org: "Tom Seeley was interviewed by RadioWest recently, and they talked about... wait for it... wait for it... Swarms. Not how to control them, or how to detect swarming before it happens, but about the process, and what goes on in all those tiny brains. Nearly an hour, but it is an mp3, so you can download it, (right-click on the play button, and "save as") and listen to it on the subway. Tom is always worth a listen.")

Over millions of years, honeybees have evolved to act as a collective. Together, they identify and deliberate new nest locations and then navigate there as a swarm. Thomas Seeley loves honey bees, and he knows a lot about them. But there's one thing that remains a mystery to him: how do bees know when to swarm? As he searches for the answer, Seeley's learning what these insects can teach humans about making decisions. Seeley joins us Friday to talk about the lives of bees and their democracy. [Rebroadcast]

Thomas Seeley is a professor in the Department of Neurology and Behavior at Cornell University. He's the author of Honeybee Democracy [Amazon|Indiebound] and The Wisdom of the Hive [Amazon|Indiebound]

Listen and Download: http://radiowest.kuer.org/post/honeybee-democracy-0

(Note: We are honored that Thomas Seeley will be speaking at the California State Beekeepers Association Annual Convention in Valencia, CA November 18-20, 2014.)

Thomas D. Seeley and BEES featured on NOVA/What Are Animals Thinking?

This AMAZING interview with Thomas D. Seeley and BEES was Broadcast on PBS November 7, 2012. Now available for viewing online at NOVA/What Are Animals Thinking? ("Hive Mind" Ch. 4, Time code 33:50).

Read more about Thomas D. Seeley, Biologist at Cornell University Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Author of "Honeybee Democracy," "Honeybee Ecology," and "The Wisdom of the Hive."

Honeybee Democracy/Thomas D. Seeley on Nova/What Animals Think

TONIGHT - NOV. 7, 2012

The bees and Thomas D. Seeley (author of Honeybee Democracy) are featured in the next episode of Nova ScienceNow/What Animals Think on Nov. 7, 2012. Check your local listing for time. All filmed on Appledore Island (Shoals Marine Lab).


Honeybee Democracy/Thomas D. Seeley on Nova/What Animals Think

The bees and Thomas D. Seeley (author of Honeybee Democracy) are featured in the next episode of Nova ScienceNow/What Animals Think on Nov. 7, 2012. Check your local listing for time. All filmed on Appledore Island (Shoals Marine Lab).