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Author Topic: Counting Bees  (Read 1398 times)
Jerrymac
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« on: September 27, 2008, 10:09:07 AM »

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20080926/sc_livescience/beescancount


Bees Can Count
 Graciela Flores
Natural History Magazine
LiveScience.com
Fri Sep 26, 5:46 PM ET
 


Honeybees are clever little creatures. They can form abstract concepts, such as symmetry versus asymmetry, and they use symbolic language - the celebrated waggle dance - to direct their hivemates to flower patches. New reports suggest that they can also communicate across species, and can count - up to a point.


With colleagues, Songkun Su of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, and Shaowu Zhang of the Australian National University in Canberra managed to overcome the apian impulse to kill intruders and cultivated the first mixed-species colonies, made up of European honeybees, Apis mellifera, and Asiatic honeybees, A. cerana. The researchers confirmed that the two species have their own dialects: foraging in identical environments, the bees signaled the distance to a food source with dances of different durations.


Remarkably, despite the communication barrier, A. cerana decoded A. mellifera's dance and found the food.


Also at the Australian National University, Marie Dacke and Mandyam V. Srinivasan trained European honeybees to pass a particular number of colored stripes in a tunnel to get a food reward, which was placed by a stripe. When they removed the food, the bees still returned to the same stripe.


Next, they mixed things up on the bees: they varied the spacing of the stripes, and even replaced stripes with unfamiliar markers. The insects consistently passed the same number of markers to approach the former reward site, demonstrating that they could count, up to four.


The studies burnish the impressive list of honeybees' known cognitive abilities, all achieved with a brain the size of a sand grain.


The studies were detailed in the journals PLoS One and Animal Cognition.





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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2008, 11:37:06 PM »

Saw a variation on this one today here:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081026/od_uk_nm/oukoe_uk_australia_science

Australia scientists say bees can count to four

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Researchers have discovered that honey bees can count to four, a report said here on Sunday.

A researcher from the University of Queensland put five markers inside a tunnel and placed nectar in one of them, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio reported.

Honey bees placed in the tunnel flew to the marker with the food, and would still fly to the same marker stripe when the food was removed.

"We find that if you train them to the third stripe, they will look subsequently in the third stripe," researcher Mandyam Srinivasan said.

"If you train them to the fourth stripe, they will look the fourth stripe and so on. But their ability to count seems to go only up to four. They can't count beyond four.

"The more we look at these creatures that have a brain the size of a sesame seed, the more astonished we are. They really have a lot of the capacities that we so-called higher human beings possess."

The research was carried out jointly with Swedish researcher Marie Dacke.
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