Navigation Links
Bees capable of learning feats with tasty prize in sight
Date:3/18/2014

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 nave 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."


'/>"/>

Contact: Peter Kevan
pkevan@uoguelph.ca
519-824-4120 x52479
University of Guelph
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Majority-biased learning
2. Awake mental replay of past experiences critical for learning
3. Dartmouth researchers are learning how exercise affects the brain
4. Songbirds learning hub in brain offers insight into motor control
5. New Genetics educational resource promotes active learning
6. New model gives hands-on help for learning the secrets of molecules
7. Learning faster with neurodegenerative disease
8. Learning from each other -- growing together
9. Sleep-deprived bees have difficulty relearning
10. Learning a new sense
11. Learning whos the top dog: Study reveals how the brain stores information about social rank
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/16/2017)... FRANCISCO , Feb. 16, 2017  Genos, ... today announced that it has received Laboratory Accreditation ... CAP Accreditation is presented to laboratories that meet ... who demonstrate scientifically rigorous processes. "Genos ... excellence in laboratory practices. We,re honored to be ...
(Date:2/13/2017)... , Feb. 13, 2017  RSA Conference -- RSA, ... that is designed to enhance fraud detection and ... in the RSA Fraud & Risk Intelligence Suite. ... to leverage additional insights from internal and external ... better protect their customers from targeted cybercrime attacks. ...
(Date:2/10/2017)... , Feb 10, 2017 Research ... report "Personalized Medicine - Scientific and Commercial Aspects" ... ... medicine. Diagnosis is integrated with therapy for selection of treatment ... early detection and prevention of disease in modern medicine. Biochip/microarray ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/22/2017)... Linda, Ca (PRWEB) , ... February 22, 2017 ... ... virtual events for tech innovators, engineers, and scientists from around the world, is ... will place on February 22 and 23, 2017. This premier, online-only conference focused ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... Dublin - Research ... Crop Protection (Bio-Pesticide) Market-By Type, By Application, By End User, By ... offering. ... Biological Crop Protection Market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR ... biopesticide or biological crop protection market is driven by the surging ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... 2017 Aethlon Medical, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... that validated the ability of the Aethlon HemopurifierĀ® to ... mortality in immune-suppressed sepsis patients and also contribute to ... objective of the study was to validate the ... (EBV) and Herpes Simplex virus 1 (HSV1) by the ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... ... February 22, 2017 , ... Pharma ... Tom Perkins as European director. Operating from Pennsideā€™s Zurich headquarters, Pennside Partners, GmbH, ... Perkins joins Pennside after more than a decade with leading market research firm, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: