Frisch, Karl, b. Vienna, Nov. 20, 1886, d. Munich (Germany), June 12, 1982, zoologist, animal psychologist; studied the behaviour of bees; Won Nobel Prize for Physiology in 1973 with K. Lorenz and N. Tinbergen for the discovery of the way bees communicate with each other; studied in Vienna; 1921 professor at Rostock University; later in Bremen; 1946 in Graz; 1950 in Munich. He focused his studies on the honey bee (Apis mellifera) and demonstrated among other things the bees' sense of colour. A bee does not see the colour red, but perceives ultraviolet rays, which in turn are invisible to human beings. F. showed that bees orientate themselves with the help of polarized light, which enables them to determine the exact position of the sun even when it is overcast. F. discovered the "language of bees", by means of which a collector bee (scout bee) communicates the position of a source of nectar or the distance from the hive to a particular flower to its hivemates. The collector bee informs the other bees by performing a particular dance, known as "tail-wagging dance", in a figure-eight pattern. The direction or the angle the bee runs (from straight up) indicates the angle of the nectar source from the sun. The speed at which the dance is performed indicates the distance.
Works#Die Sprache der Bienen, 1923; Aus dem Leben der Bienen, 1927; Du und das Leben, 1936; Duftgelenkte Bienen, 1947; Biologie 2 vols., 1952/1953; Erinnerungen eines Biologen, 1957 (autobiography); Tanzsprache und Orientierung der Bienen, 1965 (The Dance Language and Orientation of Bees, 1967).