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Magazine

Bumblebees are smart enough to teach each other how to score goals with tiny balls

Bumblebees are smart enough to teach each other how to score goals with tiny balls

Scientists have discovered that bumblebees are smarter than we thought and can even teach each other things, like how to score goals with miniature balls.

Researchers from Queen Mary University Of London set the bees up on a platform with a ‘goal’ in the centre, that rewarded them with a sugar solution if they scored.

This kind of learning behaviour hadn’t been observed in insects before now.

The bees learnt by watching a plastic bee or previously trained insect score, or were shown the ball moving into the goal on its own via an unseen magnet.

The bees that had learnt from another insect were better students, and worked out their own ways of scoring rather than simply copying their teachers.

The bee's goal was a hole in the middle of the platform (Queen Mary University of London)
The bee’s goal was a hole in the middle of the platform (Queen Mary University of London)

A member of the research team, Dr Olli Loukola said: “This shows an impressive amount of cognitive flexibility, especially for an insect.”

The research is published in the journal Science.

Magazine
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