Streetwise bees cut corners to find food

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New research shows that bumblebees waste no time enjoying the beauty of flowers, instead learning the bare minimum about where to land and find food.

The bees were presented with artificial flowers with sugar solution in the center.

The flowers were positioned upright, and the flight pattern of bees meant they mostly saw the bottom half of the circles as they came in to land.

When faced with a test circle with a different arrangement of the two colors, bees paid more attention to the lower half of the artificial flower than they did to the whole flower.

Professor Natalie Hempel de Ibarra, Associate Professor at the Center for Research in Animal Behavior, said that bees have the cognitive capacity to learn a lot.

A simple, low-effort form of learning is good enough for some situations.

The bees in our experiments were able to get just the information they needed, rather than learning everything that was available to them.

Most animals like to learn quickly.

One could simply follow a trail with a big color sign and learn a hidden route to the top of the hill.

The research team presented bees with different versions of the training and tasks.

Some bees were trained with a circle split into two different colors, which changed their flight patterns.

The test results in this case were more complex than after learning circles that were split evenly, suggesting the bees had paid attention to contrast edges and color during training flights.

Sugar solution was provided in the training flights, but no reward was given in the test flights that followed. The bees flew around in front of the test circle to see which color they were drawn to, because they couldn't locate the sugar during the test flights.

Professor Hempel de Ibarra said the study's findings may provide insights about the evolution of flowers, whose colorful patterns can help bees to quickly and safely land.

The paper is titled "Approach direction prior to landing explains patterns of color learning in bees."

There is more information about the approach direction prior to landing explained in the book. The book is titled "Fphys.

The journal contains information about the field of Physiology.

Streetwise bees cut corners to find food in December of 2021.

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