Bees are better at maths than you might think

Honey bee
Honey bee Credit: Getty 

The finding that wasps are smart was big news recently – big enough news to find its way on to the BBC comedy panel show Have I Got News For You? For those of you who were not paying attention, wasps have been shown to possess “transitive inference”; that is, if they know that A is bigger than B, and that B is bigger than C, they can infer that A must be bigger than C.

Bees cannot do this, which might lead you to the erroneous conclusion that bees are dumb. But far from it – evidence continues to accumulate that bees are far smarter than anyone thought. More than 20 years ago, German researchers showed that honeybees can count. Specifically, they can use the number of landmarks to measure the...

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