Bees are very, very intelligent.
And they are not only tasked with flying around and making honey.
Scientists have recently discovered that bees have the ability to do math problems that would stump the average 4-year-old.
Last year, a group of researchers in Australia reported that bees understood the concept of “zero”.
Now, a new study by the same group of researchers suggests that these Bees can also do basic addition and subtraction problems.
The team reported their findings in the journal Science Advances.
This is huge news because only a few decades ago, scientists were convinced that such a level of processing was limited to humans only.
But research showed that animals such as dolphins, crows and even parrots were able to understand basic mathematical equations.
As noted by Adrian Dyer, one of the authors of the new study, associate professor of the RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, “the discovery called into question “position that there’s something special about the human brain.”
It has been reported that the brains of bees have less than 1 million neurons, which is much lower when compared with the nearly 86,000 million neurons that are present in the human brain.
“They have a very tiny brain with an architecture very different from ours,” explains Dyer. Even so, they were able to carry out tasks that were thought only possible for humans.
For their new study, Dyer and his team collected 14 bees.
The buzz students were sent into a Y-Shaped labyrinth where they had at their disposal from one to five shapes that were either blue or yellow.
As noted by Live Science, the bees then had a choice to fly to the left or right side of the maze, with one side containing one more element and the other containing one less.
if the shapes were blue in color, the bees needed to add an element; if they were yellow, they had to subtract it.
The bees were rewarded with sugar water when they chose a correct answer and gave them a solution of bitter quinine when they chose the wrong answer.
The bees were trained for up to seven hours, and the experiment was repeated to test the knowledge of the bees, but this time without reward and punishment.
Surprisingly, scientists discovered that in two addition and two subtraction tests, the bees had chosen the correct answer with an accuracy of 75%.
“You need to be able to hold the rules around adding and subtracting in your long-term memory, while mentally manipulating a set of given numbers in your short-term memory,” Dyer explained in a statement.
“On top of this, our bees also used their short-term memories to solve arithmetic problems, as they learned to recognize plus or minus as abstract concepts rather than being given visual aids.
“Our findings suggest that advanced numerical cognition may be found much more widely in nature among non-human animals than previously suspected.
“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.”