Honeybees are well-known for their remarkable cognitive abilities. They rely on their learning capacities to better identify the most profitable flowers. Beyond classical associative learning faculties, the bees were shown to possess an unexpected sense for number. As an example, they can sort numbers in a linear scale including a concept of zero as the lowest quantity.
Researchers from the CRCA-CBI Toulouse have just demonstrated that bees not only can discriminate quantities relatively (one presenting more or less elements than the other) but also with an absolute representation of numbers.
This work, published in Biology Letters, shows that honeybees are capable to identify numbers independently of any relative comparison (more/less). The bees' sense of number seems consequently to parallel the Human's one, suggesting widespread numerical competence in animals and independent emergence of the sense of number in different branches of species evolution.
Read more on CNRS website (in french)
© Photo : Maria Bortot
Honeybees use absolute rather than relative numerosity in number discrimination
Bortot M, Agrillo C, Avarguès-Weber A, Bisazza A, Miletto Petrazzini ME, Giurfa M.
Biol Lett. 2019 Jun 28;15(6):20190138. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2019.0138. Epub 2019 Jun 1
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