Bumblebees are able to think logically?

“Bumblebee Cone,” by Scott Robinson. Flickr. URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clearlyambiguous/20312419/ (assessed on 6 April 2013)

Bumblebee is the common name for any member of the bee genus Bombus, found in the family Apidae. Bumblebees are hairy creatures and tend to live together in colonies. They are the most common type of bee and almost 250 species can be found around the world.

Worker bees’ have to travel to a large amount of flowers everyday in order to collect the nectar and pollen to feed the queen bee. This can be a tough job considering how many flowers there are out there. Therefore, bumblebees have developed this skill of copying other bees’ flower color choices. By doing so, it saves them the time and energy of having to fly from flower to flower to look for the best flower.

Bumblebees will watch the other bees as they collect nectar. Using simple logic, bumblebees observe the color of flower the bees collect nectar from and they conclude that flowers of such color will be nectar rich.

Laboratory tests were carried out whereby an arena was filled with “fake flowers”. Bumblebee will then watch through a screen where their companions chose one flower of a specific color over another. After that when they were given a chance to choose their flowers, they chose the one that their companions chose. Naïve bees, which did not watch their companions, just went ahead to any flower.

This shows that bees used logic while approaching flowers. If other bees were approaching a red flower, it tells the bumblebee that red flowers should contain a lot of nectar. As a result, they will choose the color of the flowers according to what the other bees chose. The ability of the bees to associate their choice of the flower color according to what the other bees chose reflected their complex thinking and their social learning ability.

Literature cited

Bumblebee. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 7,2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumblebee

Queen Mary, University of London (2013, April 4). Bumblebees use logic to find the best flowers.  ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 7, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130404122053.htm

Supporting article

Yamamoto S, Humle T, Tanaka M (2013) Basis for Cumulative Cultural Evolution in Chimpanzees: Social Learning of a More Efficient Tool-Use Technique. PLoS ONE 8(1): e55768. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055768