Bumblebees are in danger in many developed countries due to habitat destruction, intense land use, climate change effects, and collateral pesticide damage. Of 25 species in Britain, three have been extirpated, eight are in severe decline, and only six remain widespread. But the bumblebee is threatened all over the world. A decrease in bumblebee numbers could cause large-scale changes to the countryside, resulting from inadequate pollination of certain plants.
Bumblebee is a fascinating insect, and scientists can’t get enough of studying it. The latest discovery is that the bumblebee has somethings resembling human consciousness. Not as complex, as thee furry insect has only one million neurons inside its brain, as opposed to 100 billion neurons inside the human brain. But still, one million seems to be enough to become conscious of the shape of an object.
These insects have been observed, attempting to emulate each other’s goals. In a previous study, bees were taught to complete a Herculean task of moving large objects to obtain a reward. Bees that first observed another bee complete the task were significantly more successful in learning the task.
Bumblebees remember objects and can recognize them
Bumblebees use a combination of color and spatial relationships to learn which flowers to forage from. They can also detect both the presence and the pattern of electric fields on flowers. They use this information to find out if another bee has recently visited a flower. Bumblebees can detect the temperature of flowers, as well as which parts of the flower are hotter or cooler, and use this information to recognize flowers. But now, the new study reveals that they perceive the flowers also by their shape.
Knowing that bumblebees learn to use the scent mark, they leave on a flower to identify both rewarding and unrewarding flowers. Scientists wanted to know if there is more than that. So, they cultivated rewarding geometrical objects and left the bumblebees in the dark to see if they remember the rewarding shape once the light is on. And they did. Once the light was on, the bees went straight to the round objects they knew would reward them.
Then, the researchers switched the objects, and the round ones were no longer the rewarding kind. But bumblebees ran directly to them, ending in disappointment. But scientists were thrilled: this insect has a sense of consciousness. It represents objects inside the sesame-sized brain it has. That sounds a little like finding aliens.