Tag Archives: bees

Bee-st

There’s no two ways about it – bees are pretty darn smart. The knowledge that they are able to communicate the location of food sources to hive mates through a series of movements (a little dance if you will) is pretty well known. It turns out not only are they capable of complex communication – they also have some mathematical capabilities! Talk about top of the class!

Read more: Numerical cognition in honeybees enables addition and subtraction

Although other animals such as monkeys and even spiders have the capacity to think of things in terms of relative quantities (identifying larger or smaller amounts), bees are actually able to grasp more complex arithmetic such as addition and subtraction. Here researchers used colours to associate with either adding (blue) or subtracting (yellow) and found that bees could not only grasp these concept and but also solve mathematical problems! This means that they could learn, remember, and execute this basic arithmetic. It does bring up the question how many other animals are capable of grasping complex concepts if given the chance?


Tanya Strydom is a PhD candidate at the Université de Montréal, mostly focusing on how we can use machine learning and artificial intelligence in ecology. Current research interests include (but are not limited to) predicting ecological networks, the role species traits and scale in ecological networks, general computer (and maths) geekiness, and a (seemingly) ever growing list of side projects. Tweets (sometimes related to actual science) can be found @TanyaS_08.

Bee-reaucracy

Fun fact, bees are now officially fish – well at least in the eyes of Californian Endangered Species law anyway. The reason for this is not people having never seen a fish before, instead it’s down to an odd case of semantics. The original legislation that was put in place for the protection of endangered animals in California defined ‘fish’ as to include invertebrates (which is ironic as ‘fish’ in the taxonomic sense are actually vertebrates). This means that as bees have no actual backbones (despite being a backbone to ecosystem function), they can actually be classified as ‘fish’…

Makes perfect sense right?

This little loophole has allowed the Californian Fish and Game Commission to challenge the interpretation of the original species protection law to include bees under its protection. So although bees are still insects I’m sure they would be more than happy to call themselves ‘fish’ if it means that they will be afforded laws that will allow them to be classified as threatened species and be protected under the state’s endangered species act. They might have to take some swimming lessons first though!

Read More: California bees can legally be fish and have the same protections, a court has ruled


Tanya Strydom is a PhD candidate at the Université de Montréal, mostly focusing on how we can use machine learning and artificial intelligence in ecology. Current research interests include (but are not limited to) predicting ecological networks, the role species traits and scale in ecological networks, general computer (and maths) geekiness, and a (seemingly) ever growing list of side projects. Tweets (sometimes related to actual science) can be found @TanyaS_08.