Honeybees Can Count (Up to 4)

We may not have been giving honeybees enough credit: turns out the insect can count (well, up to four anyhow)!

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.

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