Bees do not have ears but still have hearing abilities. The honeybee auditory system reveals the ways bee colonies communicate with each other and interact with the world around them.
Bees emit and detect noises in a more limited range than humans, but have no need for hearing beyond communication and survival.
How Can Bees Detect Sound?
The main body parts that bees use to detect sound are the subgenual organs and the Johnston’s organ.
These two instruments pick up vibroacoustic signals, which means they take in sound as vibrations throughout the whole body.
Bees pick up sound in two ways: through air-borne vibration and substrate-borne vibration. Air-borne vibration reception is evident when bees dance and buzz their wings in orderly routines. Substrate-borne vibration refers to sounds bees detect through the surfaces they’re on.
Additionally, bees explore the world around them through other senses, such as through electromagnetic receptors. The combination of their vibroacoustic hearing abilities and other capabilities leads them to be able to communicate.
What Are Subgenual Organs and Where Are They Located?
Subgenual organs are part of a bee’s hearing system. They’re found in the second to top segments of bees’ six legs. This area is called the tibia, which is right underneath the femur.
Each subgenual organ is suspended by the hemolymph channels in the tibia. Hemolymph is bees’ blood flow. The subgenual organs receive and translate vibrations as sound through corresponding nerves.
What Is the Johnston’s Organ?
The Johnston’s organ in a bee’s antennae helps them to hear.
Where Is The Johnston’s Organ Located And How Does It Work?
The antennae’s joint-like parts contain the Johnston’s organ. The part where the antennae meet the bee’s head is the scape. The pedicel is the joint that connects the scape to the rest of the antennae, the flagellum.
The Johnston’s organ is specifically located in the pedicel which is also the base of the flagellum.
How Do Bees Use Sound Information?
Bees’ hearing is a crucial aspect of communicating with hive mates.
Bees can emit sound frequencies by way of buzzing their wings. Certain frequencies combined with specific “dances” relay a message to other bees. Waggle dancing is a way a bee will make sounds with its wings to let others know that there is a food source nearby.
Bees can also sense wing beating and determine if there is a potential mate nearby.
Do Bumblebees Detect Sound The Same Way As Honey Bees?
Bumblebees may have the ability to detect sound like honey bees, but research in bees’ auditory systems has been focused on honey bees. Honey bees perform dances to communicate with each other, while bumblebees do not.
These dances are associated with sound frequencies which honey bees use to find food sources. Bumblebees may not necessarily use their auditory senses in the same way, if at all. It’s suspected that bumblebees feel vibrations through surfaces rather than in vibroacoustic ways like honeybees.
How Sensitive Is Bee Hearing?
Bees can hear frequencies between 10 to 500 Hz. That is a small range compared to a human’s frequency range, but it’s enough for honeybees to communicate with each other.
The hearing abilities of bees continue to unveil mysteries in biology. As well as for other technologies, discovering the way bees can hear helps organizations find ways to improve human lives, such as figuring out new ways to create hearing devices. Bees don’t have ears, but they’re capable of producing and receiving sounds.
How Far Can Bees Detect Movements?
Bees can detect movement at speeds impossible for humans. However, their detection abilities are primarily attributed to their sight range.
Are Bees Sensitive To Loud Noises?
Bees have been shown to react to loud noises at around 100 to 120 decibels. This decibel range is a harmful noise level for humans as well.
Extremely loud sounds can possibly put bees in a trance. Researchers continue to use this information to see how human-induced sounds may affect bees’ and other insects’ behaviour.
Can Bees Hear Us?
Bees do not hear as humans do. Their auditory organs pick up vibrations that bees feel throughout their whole bodies. This system limits the frequency range at which they can detect sound.
Bees can sense frequencies lower than 500 Hz. This range includes human voices and other noisy objects like lawnmowers. Bees should be able to hear sounds at these frequencies through air-borne vibration if they’re loud enough.
Human Hearing vs. Bee Hearing
Sounds go through a more complicated process for human ears to receive them. However, humans are able to hear more than bees can.
Human hearing involves multiple parts like the eardrums and cochlea to translate sound vibrations. Meanwhile, bees use vibro-detecting organs in their legs and antennae to “hear” sound.