New Discovery: Bees share tricks and tips (By Oliver, 12)

By Oliver, 12, Jill Dando News @ Worle Community School Academy

New studies show that bumblebees are more clever than we ever imagined – they even have schools!

After some bees found a way to get a sweet surprise from a locked container, the whole hive learnt how just by watching and listening!

 This research, from the Queen Mary University of London and published by  PLOS Biology, provides reinforced evidence that social learning encourages the spread of bee-havior — in this specific case, how they forage for food.

 A range of tests were created to prove this. Designed by the researchers, they used a two-option puzzle box that is unlocked by pushing a red tab clockwise or a blue tab anticlockwise, unveiling a 50% sucrose solution prize.

‘Demonstrator’ bees were trained to push the red or blue tabs, whilst ‘observer’ bees watched.

On the observers’ turn to try the puzzle, they repeatedly chose to use the same method that they had watched, even once they discovered the other one.

This preference for the taught option was maintained by whole colonies of bees, with a mean average of 98.6% box openings made using the taught method.

“Bumblebees and indeed invertebrates in general, aren’t known to show culture-like phenomena in the wild,” said lead author Dr. Alice Bridges.

“However, in our experiments, we saw the spread and maintenance of a behavioral ‘trend’ in groups of bumblebees— similar to what has been seen in primates and birds.”

(This story was found and written by Oliver, 12, of Jill Dando News – well done Oliver!)

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