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Dismantling Babel: Understanding Honey Bee Waggle Dances for Sustainable Agriculture

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

2:30pm – 3:45pm

210 Robeson Hall, Virginia Tech Campus

Roger Schürch

Department of Entomology

Virginia Tech


Honey bee foragers collect nectar and pollen that is their food from the landscape surrounding their hive. When they get back to the colony, they advertise to their nestmates profitable food sources using the waggle dance. The waggle dance communicates the distance and direction from the hive to the food source. Dr. Schürch will show how the waggle dance can be exploited to understand where and when bees have foraged. Lastly, he will give an outlook on how we might be able to automate the process to get timely information on when honey bees have a hard time getting food. 


Dr. Schürch studied biology at the University of Bern in Switzerland. In 2003 he graduated with a Masters degree studying life-history questions in fish. After a stint as a web applications developer he went back to the University of Bern to do a PhD in cooperatively breeding cichlids, which he finished in 2008. For a postdoc at the University of Sussex in England, he switched gears and became interested in social insects, and honey bees in particular. With his co-workers he refined methods to understand where honey bees forage so that researchers can use them as bio-indicators. In 2017 he joined the faculty in the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech.