Simulation of the Internal Structure of Honey Bee Swarms

Author: Claudia Chen Faculty Mentor: Dr. Orit Peleg, Dr. Olga Shishkov Computer Science Department Biofrontiers Institute at University of Colorado Boulder Boulder, CO 80309

When honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) are searching for a new hive, they swarm in clusters of thousands of honey bees. The bees hold onto a tree branch and each other, forming a hanging swarm of bees. The colony can't survive if the queen dies or gets lost since she is responsible for laying the eggs, so the rest of the bees surround and protect her while also reacting to the dangers of the outside world such as fluctuating temperatures and wind. As scout bees find their new nesting location, the rest of the swarm must survive without the protection of their hive. We simulate this bee swarm in 2D by using a mass-spring molecular dynamics model with a gravitational force in Matlab. In the simulation, the bees reach equilibrium over time by reacting to the gravitational and spring forces. We test different configurations of bees to determine the swarm shape that results in the lowest net force on each bee. By comparing the shape of the swarm in our simulations to the shape of bee swarms in real life, we are able to understand how honey bees keep their swarm stable and protect the queen until they find a new hive. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Claudia Chen

Institution: University of Colorado at Boulder

Type: Oral

Subject: Computer Science

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Oral 2
Date/Time: Mon 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 211
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