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Dryad

Data from: Biomechanical properties of non-flight vibrations produced by bees

Cite this dataset

Vallejo-Marín, Mario et al. (2024). Data from: Biomechanical properties of non-flight vibrations produced by bees [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4tmpg4fkg

Abstract

Bees use thoracic vibrations produced by their indirect flight muscles for powering wingbeats in flight, but also during mating, pollination, defence, and nest building. Previous work on non-flight vibrations has mostly focused on acoustic (airborne vibrations) and spectral properties (frequency domain). However, mechanical properties such as the vibration's acceleration amplitude are important in some behaviours, e.g., during buzz pollination, where higher amplitude vibrations remove more pollen from flowers. Bee vibrations have been studied in only a handful of species and we know very little about how they vary among species. Here, we conduct the largest survey to date of the biomechanical properties of non-flight bee buzzes. We focus on defence buzzes as they can be induced experimentally and provide a common currency to compare among taxa. We analysed 15,000 buzzes produced by 306 individuals in 65 species and six families from Mexico, Scotland, and Australia. We found a strong association between body size and the acceleration amplitude of bee buzzes. Comparison of genera that buzz-pollinate and those that do not suggests that buzz-pollinating bees produce vibrations with higher acceleration amplitude. We found no relationship between bee size and the fundamental frequency of defence buzzes. Although our results suggest that body size is a major determinant of the amplitude of non-flight vibrations, we also observed considerable variation in vibration properties among bees of equivalent size and even within individuals. Both morphology and behaviour thus affect the biomechanical properties of non-flight buzzes.

README: Biomechanical properties of non-flight vibrations produced by bees

https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4tmpg4fkg

The data set was generated by using a piezo-electric accelerometer pressed against the thorax of the bee. The bee was induced to produce defensive buzzes and the resulting vibration signal was acquired using a DAQ and a computer. Each file was then used to extract individual buzzes using custom scripts in R (see example code). The duration, frequency, and amplitude were then calculated for each buzz. The dataset also contains bee site information and species identity.

Description of the data, code, and file structure

There are three files in this set (two on Dryad, one in Zenodo). One file (Zenodo) provides an example of R code (requires seewave package) used to extract the buzz properties from a time series object containing the bee's buzzes (e.g., accelerometer data generated by the user and captured as a time series in a text file). This code automatically identifies the individual buzzes and calculates basic vibration properties. It has to be executed each time a time series object is read.

The other file contains the resulting data set combining all the individual files across all bees. Some automatically identified calls were excluded as they did not represent real bee buzzes. There are 15,000 buzzes in this dataset.

The third file provides the key for the column names of the dataset.

Methods

The data set was generated by using a piezo-electric accelerometer pressed against the thorax of the bee. The bee was induced to produce defensive buzzes and the resulting vibration signal was acquired using a DAQ and a computer. Each file was then used to extract individual buzzes using custom scripts in R (see example code). The duration, frequency, and amplitude was then calculated for each buzz. The dataset also contains bee site information and species identity.

Funding

National Geographic Society, Award: NGS-70228R-20

Leverhulme Trust, Award: RPG-2018-235

International Human Frontier Science Program Organization, Award: RGP0043/2022