Dorso-ventral shaking behavior

Signs or indications

Bee that is on top of another bee and is shaking up and down. Very commonly witnessed.


Dorso-ventral shaking is the most common normal behavior one might see. One bee grasps another with prothoracic and mesothoracic legs, and then vigorously and rhythmically shakes its abdomenabdomen:
the segmented, posterior (third) part of the bee body that contains heart, honey, stomach, intestines, Malphigian tubules, reproductive organs, and sting
in an up-and-down motion for 0.9 to 1.5 seconds. Receiver bees may remain still or mimic the movement. Such vibratory movements (devaving or DVAVing, also termed "shaking dance") are thought to be a solicitation of hive mates for grooming or for hive activities such as relieving foragers of nectar or swarming preparations, both of which are likely when forager-age bees do the shaking. An interpretation is that the behavior is a "wake-up call," a signal to "prepare for greater activity."

Most closely resembles

waggle dancing (see bee dancing), which involves side-to side motion repeated several times, while DVAVing is one bee shaking another. Other random bee movements may resemble this movement.


Ramsey M, Bencsik M and Newton MI. 2018. Extensive Vibrational Characterisation and Long-Term Monitoring of Honeybee Dorso-Ventral Abdominal Vibration signals. Scientific Reports 8: 14571.

Collison C. 2016. A Closer Look: Sound Generation and Hearing. Bee Culture. Accessed 2023.

Bencsik M and Ramsey M. 2018. We discovered more about the honeybee ‘wake-up call’ — and it could help save them. The Conversation. Accessed 2018.

Schneider S, Stamps JA and Gary NE. 1986. The vibration dance of the honey bee. Animal Behavior 34: 377-385.


 Shaking behavior as a signal; illustration courtesy of Tom Seeley
Shaking behavior as a signal; illustration courtesy of Tom Seeley