Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bees Capable of Learning Feats with Tasty Prize in Sight

19.03.2014

They may have tiny brains, but bumblebees are capable of some remarkable learning feats, especially when they might get a tasty reward, according to two studies by University of Guelph researchers.

PhD student Hamida Mirwan and Prof. Peter Kevan, School of Environmental Sciences, are studying bees’ ability to learn by themselves and from each other.

In the first study, published in February in Animal Cognition, the researchers found bees capable of learning to solve increasingly complex problems.

The researchers presented bees with a series of artificial flowers that required ever-more challenging strategies, such as moving objects aside or upwards, to gain a sugar syrup reward.

When inexperienced bees encountered the most complex flower first, they were unable to access the syrup reward and stopped trying. Bees allowed to progress through increasingly complex flowers were able to navigate the most difficult ones.

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

She and Kevan consider the study an example of scaffold learning, a concept normally restricted to human psychology in which learners move through increasingly complex steps.

In a second study recently published in Psyche, the researchers found bees learned by watching and communicating with other bees, a process called social learning.

Mirwan made artificial flowers requiring the bees to walk on the underside of a disk to get a sugar syrup reward. These experienced bees foraged on the artificial flowers for several days until they became accustomed to feeding at them.

To see whether other bees could learn from the experienced foragers, Mirwan confined inexperienced bees in a mesh container near the artificial flowers where they could observe the experienced bees. When the naïve bees were allowed to forage on the artificial flowers, they took just 70 seconds to get the reward.

Control bees that had not observed the experienced bees could not access the syrup.

“Social learning in animals usually involves one individual observing and imitating another, although other kinds of communication can also be involved,” said Mirwan.

“They could try for up to 30 minutes, but most gave up before then.”

In a final test, Mirwan placed experienced bees in a hive with naive bees. When the naive bees were allowed to forage on the artificial flowers, they gained the syrup in just 3.5 minutes.

Behavioural scientists usually assume that observation and imitation are at the heart of social learning, but social insects such as bees can also transmit information through touch, vibration and smell.

The researchers said the communication method used by the bees is still a mystery.

“We can’t quite explain how bees that had never even seen an artificial flower were able to become adept so quickly at foraging on them, but clearly some in-hive communication took place,” said Kevan.

“It suggests that social learning in bumblebees is even more complex than we first expected.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca; or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982, or kgonsalves@uoguelph.ca.

Peter Kevan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uoguelph.ca/news/2014/03/bees_capable_learning_feats_tasty_prize_in_sight.html

Further reports about: Cognition Communications Learning Sciences animals strategies sugar

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Climate change, population growth may lead to open ocean aquaculture
05.10.2017 | Oregon State University

nachricht New machine evaluates soybean at harvest for quality
04.10.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

50th Anniversary at JULABO GmbH

23.10.2017 | Press release

Taming 'wild' electrons in graphene

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mountain glaciers shrinking across the West

23.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>