Thursday, 20 March 2014

Bumblebee cleverer than previously thought

March 2014: Despite their tiny brains, bumblebees are capable of learning by themselves and from each other, if there is a tasty reward at the end, scientists have found.

The researchers, Prof. Peter Kevan and PhD student Hamida Mirwan from the University of Guelph presented bees with a series of artificial flowers that required challenging strategies, such as moving objects aside or upwards, to gain a sugar syrup reward.

It was found that bees with experience of problem solving found it far easier to solve than those with no experience.

“Bees with experience are able to solve new problems that they encounter, while bees with no experience just give up,” said Mirwan.

She considers the results to be an example of scaffold learning, a concept normally restricted to human psychology in which learners move through increasingly complex steps.

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