Posted: 15 Jul 2011 02:06 AM PDT
Glass is Half Empty to Shaken Honey Bees by the Central Beekeepers Alliance - Honey Bees & Beekeeping in New Brunswick, Canada. Copyright © 2011 MindsEye Productions and Central Beekeepers Alliance. All rights reserved.
When people are depressed or anxious, they tend to see their glass as half empty, not half full — but who would expect the same to hold true of honey bees? New research out of Newcastle University has shown for the first time that bees, when agitated as they would be when disturbed by a predator, show similar signs of pessimism.
To find out something about how honeybees view the world, the researchers “set them up to make a decision about whether an unfamiliar scent portended good or bad things.”
While it may be too soon to claim that honeybees experience “emotions” the way that we humans do, this seems not to be as big a stretch as once we might have imagined!
"What we have shown is that when a honeybee is subjected to a manipulation of its state that in humans would induce a feeling of anxiety, the bees show a similar suite of changes in physiology, cognition and behaviour to those we would measure in an anxious human," said Dr Geraldine Wright, one of the study’s authors. "In terms of what we are able to measure, a shaken honeybees is no less 'anxious' than a lonely dog or a rat in a barren cage."
For more information, see also:
Agitated Honeybees Exhibit Pessimistic Cognitive Biases
For stressed bees, the glass is half empty
Photo: Baukette aus Bienen by Maja Dumat on Flickr
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