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The Mathematical Efficiency of Bumblebees

Sometimes I think that I have my errands mapped out to the utmost efficiency, and then I'll have to backtrack across town because a kid needs a ride. But even without that, I probably could have found a more efficient route to all the places I needed to go -if I were as smart as a bumblebee. They do this every day, as a natural part of their lives.

Pretend it’s the weekend, and it’s time to do errands. You have to visit six stores and they’re all at six separate locations. What’s the shortest distance you can travel while visiting all six? Mathematicians call this “traveling salesman problem,” and it can even stump some computers. But for bumblebees, it’s a snap. Researchers at Royal Holloway University in London found that bumblebees fly the shortest route possible between flowers. So far, they’re the only animals known to solve the problem.

But that's just the beginning of the superpowers exhibited by bees. The fact that they pollinate crops and make honey already has bees at the top of the "most admired insects" list, but there's more to bees you should know. Read those things in the article 13 Fascinating Facts About Bees at mental_floss.

(Image credit: Sean)


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