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

y 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."


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

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