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Nature & Environment

Bees can do arithmetic, new study finds

By T.K. Randall
February 7, 2019 · Comment icon 6 comments



It would seem that bees know how to add and subtract. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Maciej A. Czyzewski
Scientists from Australia and France have determined that bees are capable of mastering basic maths skills.
The remarkable discovery was made thanks to an ingenious experiment which sought to teach honeybees how to recognize different colored symbols representing 'plus' and 'minus'.

The bees were each released into a maze consisting of a tunnel with two alternative exits.

Symbols representing simple mathematical problems were presented to each bee and they were tasked with picking the tunnel that was marked with the correct answer.
If they chose the correct exit they were rewarded with a drink of sugar water.

Incredibly, they were able to get the answer right 75% of the time.

"Our findings suggest that advanced numerical cognition may be found much more widely in nature among non-human animals than previously suspected," said Professor Adrian Dyer.

"If maths doesn't require a massive brain, there might also be new ways for us to incorporate interactions of both long-term rules and working memory into designs to improve rapid AI learning of new problems."

Source: Evening Standard | Comments (6)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by bison 4 years ago
Simple math clearly does't require a large brain. A pocket calculator can do it. Bees could be over-equiped for the simple math tasks they were given. It was only necessary to present the problem in a manner that was appropriate to their  unique sort of mentality. They might have gotten the answer close to 100 percent of the time instead of only 75%, if the experiment had been even more in line with the bees needs, interests, and sensibilities. By the way, snakes can do simple math, too...  What, you never heard of adders?!
Comment icon #2 Posted by Impedancer 4 years ago
Beehave bees ;-)
Comment icon #3 Posted by Robotic Jew 4 years ago
Great. Another thing that bees can do that I can't!
Comment icon #4 Posted by sci-nerd 4 years ago
Let's not forget that bees are fanatics, who will kill and die for their queen. And that they spend most their lives spreading plant "sperm"...
Comment icon #5 Posted by paperdyer 4 years ago
A new game show.  "Is Your 1st Grader Smarter than a Bee?"
Comment icon #6 Posted by fred_mc 4 years ago
Nah, I doubt they are so smart, at least the bee I asked to solve a second-degree equation didn't manage ;-) .


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