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Bees Prove They Are Highly Intelligent To Amazed Scientists

Bees were able to react in the same intelligent way that apes and birds do.

Bee videos have been making waves on social media as people begin to realize that the tiny insects are actually much more intelligent than anyone has ever given them credit for. Researchers at the Queen Mary University of London conducted experiments with bumblebees to test their intelligence and the little critters did not disappoint.

The experiments are usually used on apes and birds, but the bees’ quick learning showed for the first time that an invertebrate is capable of reacting in the same way in order to accomplish what they want.

“We wanted to explore the cognitive limits of bumblebees by testing whether they could use a non-natural object in a task likely never encountered before by any individual in the evolutionary history of bees,” said Dr. Clint Perry, joint lead author and also from QMUL’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

In one experiment, scientists trained 23 out of 40 participating bees to use their legs and feet to pull a string to reach their food. The food was placed atop a small disc which was inaccessible because it was underneath a plastic covering. However, if the bees pulled the strings that were attached to the discs, they were able to pull the food out and eat it.

The training part of the experiment was crucial, researchers found, as only 2 out of 110 bees from a separate group that was not shown how to pull the strings were able to figure it out. Researchers allowed yet another group of bees observe the already-trained bees perform the task and 60 percent of them were able to learn it as well.

Bees were able to react in the same intelligent way that apes and birds do.

Credit: Olli Loukola

Credit: Olli Loukola

Bee videos have been making waves on social media as people begin to realise that the tiny insects are actually much more intelligent than anyone has ever given them credit for. Researchers at the Queen Mary University of London conducted experiments with bumblebees to test their intelligence and the little critters did not disappoint.

The experiments are usually used on apes and birds, but the bees’ quick learning showed for the first time that an invertebrate is capable of reacting in the same way in order to accomplish what they want.

“We wanted to explore the cognitive limits of bumblebees by testing whether they could use a non-natural object in a task likely never encountered before by any individual in the evolutionary history of bees,” said Dr. Clint Perry, joint lead author and also from QMUL’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

In one experiment, scientists trained 23 out of 40 participating bees to use their legs and feet to pull a string to reach their food. The food was placed atop a small disc which was inaccessible because it was underneath a plastic covering. However, if the bees pulled the strings that were attached to the discs, they were able to pull the food out and eat it.

The training part of the experiment was crucial, researchers found, as only 2 out of 110 bees from a separate group that was not shown how to pull the strings were able to figure it out. Researchers allowed yet another group of bees observe the already-trained bees perform the task and 60 percent of them were able to learn it as well.

What’s even more fascinating is that the bees are able to pass this knowledge on to future generations. The researchers put the trained bees into colonies and the skills were spread successfully throughout the colony’s worker bees.

“Cultural transmission does not require the high cognitive sophistication specific to humans, nor is it a distinctive feature of humans,” said Perry.

In another experiment, the scientists essentially taught the bees how to play soccer by training them to move a ball to a certain location and then receiving food as a reward. The first group was first taught where the correct location was and then shown how to move the ball from elsewhere onto the location. Other bees learned under different conditions, such as with a “ghost” demonstration that didn’t involve a live or model bee showing them how to do it, but these attempts proved unsuccessful.

Joint lead author Dr. Olli J. Loukola, said: “The bees solved the task in a different way than what was demonstrated, suggesting that observer bees did not simply copy what they saw, but improved on it. This shows an impressive amount of cognitive flexibility, especially for an insect.”

With the population of bees dwindling rapidly, it’s important to make sure bees stay in the news, even if it is for something unrelated to their decline. Bees are extremely important for food production, wild habitats, and the environment and humans as a whole, and recognizing them for their great achievements and intelligence is crucial.

Watch the videos below to see the bees perform the “tricks” they learned.

This article (Bees Prove They Are Highly Intelligent To Amazed Scientists [Watch]) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and True Activist.

Almost no other insect has helped humans as much as the honey bee has and continues to do.

For hundreds of years, beekeepers have raised them, harvested their wonderful sweet honey, and relied on them to pollinate various crops.

Did you know that honey bees actually pollinate nearly one-third of the food crops in the world?

The Honey Bee Brain Is Tiny But Very Powerful

In spite of their small brain sizes, honey bees are very smart. Bees have a remarkable ability to learn and recall things very quickly.

Their brains are about 20,000 times less massive compared to human brains.

The honey bee brain is actually ten times denser compared to a mammal's brain.

The honey bee brain has an oval shape and is about the size of one sesame seed.

The bee brain is a very sophisticated sensory system which gives them excellent sight and smell abilities.

Their small brains are able to make very complicated calculations on distances for different locations. 

Bees can remember various colors and different landmarks quite easily.

In Australia, researchers were able to successfully teach honey bees to identify several different colors.

The bees were shown a color that was used to indicate a specific path in a maze.

The bees were then able to find their way through the maze because they recognized that color.

They were also able to recall that specific color later on, and they use it to guide their way through the maze even when they weren't shown it at the start of the maze.

Unfortunately, many pesticides that farmers use to protect their crops are very harmful to the honey bee.

These dangerous chemicals can scramble the honey bee's brain circuitry.

Research revealed that the learning circuits of honey bees stopped working very quickly when they were exposed to certain pesticides.

This clearly shows that something has to be done to protect the valuable lives of honey bees if we want to continue to eat the various the crops they pollinate.