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Last Updated: Friday, 25 August 2006, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
Boffins put dancing bees to work
Bees on a wooden hive
The dance of a bee tells how many others should go to the flowers
Boffins have used bees to come up with a computer formula to help manufacturers work out the best way to set up their machines for certain jobs.

When a bee finds a source of nectar, it returns to the hive and "waggle dances" information about its find.

The other bees decide how many of them will fly off to find the new source, depending on its distance and quality.

Researchers at Cardiff University have designed a process which mimics this to find a machine's best settings.

It calculates the most efficient settings for a certain job, in the same way as how many bees are sent to certain flower patches.

The university's Manufacturing Engineering Centre (MEC) team developed the process as a way of helping companies maximise their results by changing basic settings on their machinery using the technology to calculate the best setting.

Called the Bees Algorithm, researchers enter basic data about all or part of a company, or even just one machine, and can work out the best settings to use.

It has been found to be faster than existing calculations and it has already been used on working out the most efficient settings on welding systems and for the design of springs.

Its developer, PhD student Afshin Ghanbarzadeh, presented the idea at a recent conference with 4,000 delegates from 73 countries taking part.

Professor D T Pham, director of MEC at Cardiff University, said: "We had some highly imaginative ideas at the conference and this is one of the most innovative.

"This algorithm can help business work out the most effective way to set up their machines, and save them a lot of money through running their processes as efficiently as possible."

Bees get a buzz from warm flowers
03 Aug 06 |  Science/Nature
Homing instinct of bees surprises
26 Jul 06 |  Science/Nature
Melting nest leaves honey on wall
26 Jul 06 |  Bristol/Somerset

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