Bees are brainy, can also do sim­ple maths

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TRENDS TIMES - Josh Gab­batiss

Bees are able to grasp ba­sic maths, ac­cord­ing to a new study, which sug­gests a small brain may not mean low in­tel­li­gence.

Af­ter train­ing a group of the pol­li­nat­ing in­sects, sci­en­tists at French Na­tional Cen­tre for Sci­en­tific Re­search found they were able to per­form ad­di­tion and sub­trac­tion.

In re­cent years, ex­per­i­ments have shown that the skill of math­e­mat­ics is found across the an­i­mal king­dom.

In the new study, a team led by Dr Scar­lett Howard first taught their bees to recog­nise colours as sym­bols for ei­ther ad­di­tion or sub­trac­tion. Specif­i­cally, blue meant “more” and yel­low meant “less”. Next, their bees were trained to en­ter Yshaped mazes in which they had to make a choice be­tween two sets of shapes.

At the en­trance to the maze, the bees were met with be­tween one and five shapes, coloured ei­ther blue or yel­low. Next they flew into a cham­ber where they could fly to­wards ei­ther the orig­i­nal num­ber of shapes, plus or mi­nus one, or the in­cor­rect num­ber of shapes. If they first en­coun­tered blue they had to add, and if yel­low they had to sub­tract. Across some 100 such tri­als, the re­searchers trained 14 bees to choose the cor­rect op­tion around 75% of the time, the sci­en­tists wrote in the find­ings that were pub­lished in the jour­nal ‘Sci­ence Ad­vances’.


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