People don’t typically think of bees as being very intelligent. Look at the way we use terms like “hive mind” or “drone” – hardly complimentary to bees. But there’s much more to our apian friends. Read on for a few facts that might change your mind about bee brains.
You probably know that bees are designated as workers, drones, scouts, soldiers, or queens. But many bees will do a number of jobs in its lifetime, and every time they take on a new job, their brain chemistry changes. Imagine if your brain changed every time you got a new job!
Not only that, but when an older bee takes on a job that is normally done by younger members of the hive, their brain stops aging. Actually, it begins to age in reverse. Scientists are hopeful that this could help us understand and treat dementia in humans.
Science has shown that bees are anything but mindless drones. Studies have found distinct personality traits among bees, from thrill-seeking to timidity to agitation. One study even suggested that some bees were pessimistic. Does that mean bees have feelings? They just might.
Bees might even be better at math than you are. Researchers point to the “travelling salesman problem”, which requires determining the shortest route to travel while making a number of stops. Even some computers are flummoxed by this problem, but bees routinely fly the shortest distance between flowers. No other animals are known to have solved this problem.