Saturday March 04, 2017

Watch this bee slam dunk a ball for a sweet treat

A bumblebee rolling a ball on the way to a sweet reward.

A bumblebee rolling a ball on the way to a sweet reward. (Lida Loukola)

Listen 7:38

Previous studies about bee cognition have usually involved evolutionary traits, such as flying and foraging.  

But a recent study by Dr. Clint Perry, a cognitive neuro-ethologist from Queen Mary University of London, demonstrated a behavioural flexibility in bumblebees that had never been seen before.

In the experiment, a bumblebee was trained to roll a ball into a hole in order to receive a food treat, in this case sugar water.  In the second part of the experiment, the bee was presented with three balls, two of which were fixed. The bee was still successful in solving the problem. Observer bees were immediately able to not only do the same, but improve on that task.    

The experiment proved that bumblebees are not the genetically, preprogrammed animals they were thought to be, and are capable of stepping out of evolutionary routines.    

How smart is a bumblebee?0:41

         

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