Honeybees learn math

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MELBOURNE — New research published in the journal Science Advances reveals that honeybees are capable of understanding simple math problems.

The Australian research team began by teaching 14 honeybees the basic rules of arithmetic. They trained them to enter a Y-shaped maze where they first faced a series of colored geometric shapes.

The number and the color of the shapes would vary. If the shapes were blue the bee had to add one unit to the image presented at the entrance. If the shapes were yellow it had to subtract one unit.”

If they chose the correct answer they would be rewarded with sugar water, if the answer was incorrect they would get a bitter solution called quinine. After 100 trials that took 4-7 hours, the bees had learned a basic concept of addition and subtraction.

The bees were able to choose the correct answer between 63 and 72 percent of the time.


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