Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from F-J

Frisch, Karl von

bees food bee scent

(1886–1982) Austrian ethologist: observer of the dancing bees.

Frisch studied zoology at Munich and Trieste and later taught zoology at four universities, spending the longest period in Munich. For over 40 years he made a close study of the behaviour of the honey bee. His results showed that bees can use polarized light to navigate back to the hive; that they cannot distinguish between certain shapes; and that they can see some colours, including ultraviolet (invisible to man) but not red. He also concluded that a forager bee can inform other workers of the direction and distance of a food source by means of a coded dance, a circular or figure-of-eight movement performed at the hive. He believed that information on food was also communicated by scent.

In the 1960s, A M Wenner claimed that sound as well as scent is used; bees emit a range of sounds audible to other bees. Later still, the problem was further examined by J L Gould, who used ingenious ways to test if false information could be transmitted by bees. By the 1980s it seemed that dance, scent and sound are all used in bee communication, at least by foragers reporting on a food source. Frisch is regarded as a key figure in developing ethology, by combining field observation with experiment. He shared a Nobel Prize in 1973 .

Frisch, Otto Robert [next]

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or