The economics of honeybee swarming

Chung Cheng Lin*, Tze Wei Chen, Ching Chong Lai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper uses the Anas [Regional Science and Urban Economics 22 (1992) 243] model to provide an economic explanation of the cause of honeybee swarming. We assume that a honeybee is rational in choosing to stay in the old hive or to leave to build a new one. Rationality here refers to a bee's behavior to maximize the food (honey) that it can share or contribute. We show that all bees will live together when the total number of bees is small. As soon as the total number of bees grows over a threshold, half of the population will immediately swarm to another hive. Contrary to the traditional wisdom that the queen bee leads the swarm, our model demonstrates that swarming may be a collective action of the rational choices of many selfish individual bees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-594
Number of pages14
JournalRegional Science and Urban Economics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Sept


  • Honeybee swarming
  • Rationality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Urban Studies


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