In the 19 April Nature Martin Giurfa and colleagues at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, show that honeybees can master abstract inter-relationships, such as the concepts of 'sameness' and 'difference' (Nature 2001, 410:930-933).

Bees were trained to enter a Y-shaped maze through a hole at the base of the Y, where they encountered a sample stimulus. The bees then had to choose between the two arms of the Y, each carrying a secondary stimulus, one of which was identical to the sample stimulus. A bee was rewarded with a sucrose solution only if it chose a secondary stimulus that matched the sample stimulus. Giurfa et al found that bees not only learnt to match colours (p<0.0001), but that they could transfer that learning to match other stimuli, such as orientations of black and white patterns (p<0.0005). Bees trained to match patterns were also...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?