Setting aside the recent challenges of colony collapse disorder, the ability of bees to achieving complex tasks has long fascinated organizational theorists. And now the dances of bees (not starring Costner) are being used to improve the efficiency of web servers:
“Bees tackle their resource allocation problem (i.e. a limited number of bees and unpredictable demand on their time and desired location) with a seamless system driven by “dances.” Here’s how it works: The scout bees leave the hive in search of nectar. Once they’ve found a promising spot, they return to the hive “dance floor” and perform a dance. The direction of the dance tells the waiting forager bees which direction to fly, the number of waggle turns conveys the distance to the flower patch; and the length conveys the sweetness of the nectar.
The forager bees then dance behind the scouts until they learn the right steps (and the particulars about the nectar), forming a bobbing conga line of sorts. Then they fly out to collect the nectar detailed in the dance. As long as there’s still nectar to be found, the bees that return continue the dance. Other forager bees continue to fly toward the source until the dancing slowly tapers off or a new bee returns with a more appealing dance routine (Hey, the nectar over here is even better!).”