All posts tagged: animals

We Can Count on Bees, but Can Bees Count?

We all appreciate honeybees as reliable, hardworking, and generous insects which play vital roles in different ecosystems. But did you know that they are quite smart, too? A study published last February in Science Advances has shown that one species of honeybees—Apis mellifera— can solve problems involving some basic arithmetic operations. Bees’ cognitive capacities are not news to researches. Previous studies have shown that these insects not only can grasp concepts like ‘left/right,’ ‘above/below,’ and ‘larger/smaller,’ but they are able to count and even understand a concept as complex as the quantitive value of nothing, placing zero at the lower end of sequential positive numbers. To further investigate bees’ numerical capacities, Scarlett Howard and colleagues trained honeybees to associate symbols of a specific color, either blue or yellow, with the arithmetic operations of addition or subtraction, respectively. At the entrance of a Y-maze, bees were presented with a certain number of colored symbols. Once they had viewed this stimulus, they could fly into one of two possible decision chambers. If the symbols at the entrance were blue, …