FOOTBALLING BEES SHED NEW LIGHT ON INSECT INTELLIGENCE
“BUMBLEBEES, ALONG WITH MANY OTHER ANIMALS, MAY HAVE THE COGNITIVE CAPABILITIES TO SOLVE COMPLEX TASKS”
We bet these guys are good on the wing: bumblebees have been taught to play football by a team at Queen Mary University of London.
The team trained the bees to dribble a ball into a round goal in three different ways: some observed a previously trained bee scoring a goal, some watched the ball being moved into the goal by a magnet, and others simply ‘found’ the ball in the goal. The bees were rewarded with a sugary treat for a successful ‘shot’.
Of the three, those observing other bees learnt the quickest.
“Our study puts the final nail in the coffin of the idea that small brains constrain insects to have limited behavioural flexibility and only simple learning abilities,” said researcher Prof Lars Chittka.
Further testst showed that the bees were able to apply theirr ‘training’ to various situations, such as balls plaaced in different locations and balls colouured differently.
“It mayy be that bumblebees, along withh many other animals, have the cognitive capabilitiies to solve such complex tasks, but will only do so if eenvironmental pressurees are applied to necessitaate such behaviouours,” said researcher Dr Olli J Loukola.
The bees’ team colours are yellow and black