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Score one for the bees!


Researchers have discovered more about how honeybees can learn by observing and acting to accomplish the goal of scoring a goal using a small six-sided ball that was close to their own body size. The bees learned to move the ball by observing the use of a dummy bee moving it or via a trained researcher moving a magnetic ball. The bees could adapt to the challenge by moving the ball on their own and receive a sweet reward. The results were better when the test bees watched the ball being moved by a bee that was an expert. Of the ten bees tested, several were changing techniques to accomplish the goal and receive the rewards in a faster time resulting in less wasted effort. The result of studying how the bees solved the problem of moving the object leads to a better understanding of social behavior and how it is passed on between the subjects.


BUMBLEBEES SCORE In experiments, buff-tailed bumblebees learned how to roll a ball to a goal (first clip), a task more bees mastered after watching a trained bee do it (second clip). When successful, bees received a sip of sugar solution as a reward. O.J. Loukola et al/Science 2017

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