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Nature & Environment

Bees' tiny brains beat computers

By T.K. Randall
October 30, 2010 · Comment icon 20 comments

Image Credit: Waugsberg / Wikimedia
New research has shown that bees are able to solve complex mathematical problems.
Working out the shortest route between flowers to minimize flight time could keep a computer busy for quite a while yet bees are able to figure out exactly that on a daily basis with a brain no larger than a grass seed.
The insects learn to fly the shortest route between flowers discovered in random order, effectively solving the "travelling salesman problem" , said scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London.


Source: Guardian Unlimited | Comments (20)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #11 Posted by Melamity 14 years ago
Sorry I have to say this. "Thinking Bee! Thinking Bee!" (sorry Bee Movie is one of my favorite movies)carry on.
Comment icon #12 Posted by danielost 14 years ago
Seems some are intimidated by the fact that bees are smarter than a computer. What are you afraid of, that they will find you and reclaim their honey Zam that didnt work out so well in the movie. all animals are as smart as they need to be to be what they are. humans being the exception to that rule. well there seems to be 5 or 6 others who excempted from that rule.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Torgo 14 years ago
This is just the sort of problem that neural networks are very good at solving - especially those evolved for the purpose, like those of bees. You COULD simulate a nerual network on a computer and train it for this sort of problem, most likely. But bees come prebuilt for it.
Comment icon #14 Posted by v3ss 14 years ago
This is just the sort of problem that neural networks are very good at solving - especially those evolved for the purpose, like those of bees. You COULD simulate a nerual network on a computer and train it for this sort of problem, most likely. But bees come prebuilt for it. Here comes the Hive Mind! FOR THE ZERG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Comment icon #15 Posted by Chronii 14 years ago
The things scientists discover...sometimes is quite pathetic. Bees are smart, but there's a limit. And wtf, a computer can easily find the distance between flowers, if it's programmed right. Look at Google Maps. You can find the distance between anything in a matter of seconds. This article is BS. u mad? Seriously though, this doesn't surprise me at all.
Comment icon #16 Posted by snuffypuffer 14 years ago
Seems pretty simple to me.
Comment icon #17 Posted by jbondo 14 years ago
Bee Savants
Comment icon #18 Posted by JGirl 14 years ago
bees have the ability to do this faster than a computer, but their brains are 'programmed' to use this skill for this one purpose. now, if they could use that ability to do something other than go from flower to flower i'd be more impressed.
Comment icon #19 Posted by rashore 14 years ago
Actually, a worker bee does far more than just go from flower to flower.. For the first 2 days the newly emerged worker will clean cells and generate heat for the brood nest. The next 3 to 5 days it will feed older larvae. The next 6 to 10 days it will feed young larvae and queens (if there are any). During this period from 1 to 10 days old it is a Nurse Bee. From day 11 to 18 the worker will make honey, not gather but ripen nectar and take it from field bees bringing it back, and build comb. From days 19 to 21 the workers will be ventilation units and guard bees and janitors cleaning up the h... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by JGirl 14 years ago
Actually, a worker bee does far more than just go from flower to flower.. For the first 2 days the newly emerged worker will clean cells and generate heat for the brood nest. The next 3 to 5 days it will feed older larvae. The next 6 to 10 days it will feed young larvae and queens (if there are any). During this period from 1 to 10 days old it is a Nurse Bee. From day 11 to 18 the worker will make honey, not gather but ripen nectar and take it from field bees bringing it back, and build comb. From days 19 to 21 the workers will be ventilation units and guard bees and janitors cleaning up the h... [More]


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