All posts tagged: nature

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. Cecilia Grimaldi, “Sweet math”, Digital color photography 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 …

I want to know, have you ever smelled the rain?

Going for a walk? You better ask your nose if you should bring an umbrella along (A.K.A: What is the scientific explanation for the scent of a rainstorm?). The day had started without many expectations and then had turned into a Sunday afternoon dominated by black clouds that obscured both the sky as well as any hope of finding an explanation for my melancholy. Rainy days are never a good time for me to reason life out. Rain usually brings along a heavy, gloomy desire to do nothing but look up with my eyes and back with my mind. And on that day I knew rain was about to start; I could smell it… Wait a minute, could I?! Is it true that people can smell oncoming storms? And if yes, how is that possible? People who claim (me included) that they can smell the fresh, earthy aroma of an approaching rainstorm aren’t just imagining it. Storms produce distinctive odors that can be detected by human noses and are even stronger after a dry spell. More specifically, identifiable scents are …