BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A new study showed that bumble bees are more innovative than we have ever thought. It found out that the insects are able to solve complex problems and find the quickest way to obtain a sugar reward. This might help them cope with the changes caused by humans in their environment.
Bumble bees are amazing. They have a number of skills that are quite remarkable. They have a rudimentary culture, complex navigational skills, and they even possess emotions. Recently, the researchers have shown that they can use tools.
The researchers showed how bumble bees can learn to pull a string by watching another bee doing it. They might not be pulling strings out in the wilderness, but they can push flower petals or pull parts that look like string.
This made the researchers wonder if bumble bees can learn to operate an object that they have never encountered in their life. Thus, they started an experiment in which they made the bees search for sugar water by moving a yellow ball to a target.
First, the researchers trained them that the ball should be in a specific location for it to yield sugar water. Then, they saw different balls placed at different distances from the target. They watched another bee moving the ball to the target, a magnet moving the ball to the target, and, in the end, they saw the ball already in the target location.
Then, the bumble bees had to perform a different test, namely they had to move the balls themselves to the targeted location in less than five minutes. The results showed that the most successful bumble bees were those that watched another bee perform the task. Also, they were quicker than those who watched the demonstration done by a magnet or those that did not watch any demonstration.
Also, the bees chose innovative ways to move the ball, by pulling it and not pushing, and they also tried to move the ball which was closer to the target, as compared to the demonstrations which showed the furthest ball being moved. Also, they successfully moved balls of a different color than yellow.
The studies showed that bumble bees can be effective in problem solving and this might help them, since their populations are facing acute declines.
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