Here’s the scoop!
- Bumblebees can learn by watching others solve puzzles to get food
- Social learning plays a crucial role in the spread of this behavior
- Behavioral trends can emerge in a population due to social learning
Researchers from Queen Mary University of London conducted experiments to study how bumblebees learn from one another. They designed a puzzle box that could be opened by pushing a red or blue tab to access a 50% sucrose solution reward. The team trained some bees to use the red tab and others to use the blue tab, while observer bees watched.
The observer bees overwhelmingly chose the method they had seen, even after discovering the alternative option. This preference was maintained by whole colonies of bees, with 98.6% of box openings made using the taught method.
Lead author Dr. Alice Bridges said that social learning in bumblebees is similar to what has been seen in primates and birds. This research suggests that social learning may have had a greater influence on the evolution of behavior in social insects like bumblebees than previously thought.
The study also showed that some bees managed to open the puzzle boxes in the control group without a demonstrator, but did so far fewer times than those who benefitted from seeing another bee do it first.
Overall, this research provides strong evidence that social learning drives the spread of bumblebee behavior, specifically how they forage for food. By watching and learning from others, whole colonies of bees can adopt new behaviors and maintain them over time.
Doug Litchfield says
Hmmm, kind of like children being exposed to retards bringing them lessons in failing public schools. Where are the fully functional adults overseeing basic life skills?
Hmm. I grew up thinking that Bumblebees were black and yellow.
I know I sure got stung a few times by them and honeybees.
The picture shown looks more like a honeybee to me.
Or some kind of hornet.