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Turns Out Bees Were Cheating When They Convinced Us They Could Do Math

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Everyone likes bees. They are beautiful, smart, well dressed and do an important job. Well, according to a new study on the mathematical skills of bees, three out of four are not bad. There has been a lot of research on whether bees have tiny mathematical talents and there is a lot of evidence for that; Honeybees considered to the first insects to understand the concept of zero, and they can make complex additions and subtractions.

Not so, according to a new study published by B in the Proceedings of the Royal Society that B bees cheated when they told us they were good at math. Instead of working with numbers to solve a problem, they took a shortcut and used visual clues instead – which means they may not be book smart but they are street smart played well, bee.

A team of international researchers worked on the mathematical problems of honeybees that commonly used to test the numerical abilities of animals. The work of the bees is largely solved, but without the need for numbers. Instead, it appears to estimate the approximate amount they use using simple visual signals. However, it really shows how good animals are to find the best solution to the problem and how different that solution can be from us, the researchers said.

Turns Out Bees Were Cheating When They Convinced Us They Could Do Math

So how do you test a bee’s crazy math skills?

The beekeepers trained to identify placards of various sizes. For some bees, the sugar-water prize placed on the largest sized placard, for others it placed on the smaller sized placard. Once they found out, the bees were able to find very few or the largest number of placards to find their sweet prize. 

To determine if bees use non-numeric clues – bypassing the complex cognitive task of using numbers using visual cues – they repeated the experiment. However, this time instead of a larger number of sizes, they used the same number of sizes but differed in two sets, in visual aspects such as edge length and spatial frequency. None of the placards in these experiments had sweet treats, only untreated water. If the bees used numbers, they should have flown equally on each placard in search of a reward. Instead, bees flew placards with the maximum number of variables (attractive marginal sizes) trained to look for sugar on the maximum number of placards, and vice versa. This indicates that they used visual cues of shapes in the first task, not their number.

“The results of our study show that animals can solve tasks in incredibly clever and effective and unexpected ways,” said lead author Dr HaDi MaBouDi from the University of Sheffield. “This does not mean that bees or other non-verbal animals do not understand numbers,” he noted, “but it does suggest that animals often use non-numerical features to solve mathematical problems if such information is available.”

Still do not miss our future bee overlords. Researchers say that bee brain numbers have been able to differentiate numerical values ​​using visual cues instead of unnecessarily complex cognitive processing. This simple way of solving problems can used to develop smart AI that can perform tasks much more efficiently than humans can.

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. Alternatively, perhaps more mathematical lessons bees want to avoid. Instead of being lazy and taking, a shortcut they avoided overtaking and outsmarted us above all.