File this under cool science to share with your kids! Bees continue to fascinate and often surprise scientists, and this rather interesting experiment certainly falls into both categories.
In a story from the Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers report that they have determined bees can learn how to differentiate between human faces. From Discovery News:
The study’s authors placed a sugar solution in front of a picture of simple symbols arranged in a “normal” face-like image — two dots for eyes, a short vertical dash for a nose and a longer horizontal line for a mouth — then rewarded the bee for going to the photo.
Dr. Arian Dyer from Monash University, Dr. Martin Giurfa from the Université de Toulouse, France, and their team conducted the study.
They then added in other dot-dash images to the mix with the symbols cramped together, others with them farther apart, and the bees continuously went to the original photo — the one most face-like and where the reward was given — even after the sugar solution was taken away.
The researchers say this proves that the bee could recognize a specific pattern and remember it as a reward source. But now they wanted to see if the insect could distinguish between more complex, more human-like faces.
Looks like these bee-utiful insects still hive a lot to teach us. Certainly they’re creating a good deal of buzz. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)