Intriguing New Research Suggests Honeybees Can Do Simple Math

Feb 7, 2019
Intriguing New Research Suggests Honeybees Can Do Simple Math
Image: RMIT University

A new study suggests honeybees inherently understand the rudiments of addition and subtraction, a finding that highlights the remarkable cognitive abilities among even the tiniest of creatures. Critics, on the other hand, say the new research proves nothing of the sort.

In this latest study, published today in Science Advances, honeybees are shown to exhibit the capacity for basic arithmetic, challenging our understanding of how brain size influences brain power. Big cognitive things, this research suggests, can come from small packages. In addition to shedding new light on insectoid intelligence, the new research could be of benefit in AI research and the development of rapid computational modes of learning and problem-solving.

In experiments conducted by scientists from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, honeybees were shown to perform simple adding and subtracting, allowing them to successfully navigate a maze to reach a food reward. A scientist we spoke to, however, agrees that bees are smart but found the new evidence unconvincing.