If bumblebees can play, does that mean they have feelings? This study suggests yes: NPR


In an experiment by researchers at Queen Mary University of London, bees could make their way through an open path to a feeding area or opt to detour into a chamber with wooden balls (toys) . Many have made the detour.

Odd Andersen/Associated Press


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Odd Andersen/Associated Press


In an experiment by researchers at Queen Mary University of London, bees could make their way through an open path to a feeding area or opt to detour into a chamber with wooden balls (toys) . Many have made the detour.

Odd Andersen/Associated Press

When put to the test, bees have proven time and time again that they have much more to offer than pollination, honey-making and fierce loyalty to a queen. The industrious insects can count and change their behavior when things seem difficultand now some scientists say there’s evidence they like to play too.

A study recently published in animal behavior suggests that bumblebees, when given the opportunity, like to play with toys.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London conducted an experiment in which they set up a container that allowed bees to travel from their nest to a foraging area. But along the way, the bees could choose to cross a separate section with a few small balls of wood. For 18 days, the scientists observed the bees “going out of their way to repeatedly roll wooden balls, despite no apparent prompting to do so.”

The finding suggests that, like humans, insects also interact with inanimate objects as a form of play. Also similar to humans, younger bees appeared to be more playful than adult bees.

In this experiment conducted by researchers at Queen Mary University of London, bumblebees, especially young ones, seem to show they like to cling to wooden balls twice as big and roll them around just for fun .


Samadi Galpayage, Queen Mary University of London
Youtube

“This research provides a strong indication that insect minds are much more sophisticated than we imagine,” said Lars Chittka, professor of sensory and behavioral ecology at Queen Mary University of London, who led the study. ‘study. statement.

Previous studies showed that black and yellow insects are willing to learn new tricks in exchange for food or other rewards, so in this case, Chittka and his team set out to create conditions that would eliminate external variables. They made sure that the bees had acclimated to their new home and that their environment was stress-free.

In one experiment, bees, which were tracked by age and sex, could make their way through an open path to a feeding area or opt to detour into a chamber with the wooden balls. Many have made the detour. The video shows the chubby insects clinging to the balls (about twice the size of bees) and maneuvering them. In more comedic moments, some bees appeared to do somersaults while holding each other. Other times they walked in reverse, pulling the ball with them – an unnatural move for bumblebees.

“There are a lot of animals that play just for fun, but most examples come from young mammals and birds,” Chittka said.

The study’s first author, Samadi Galpayage, who is a PhD student at Queen Mary University of London, added that this is further evidence that insects may be capable of experiencing feelings.

“They can actually experience some sort of positive emotional states, even if they’re rudimentary, like other larger or less fluffy animals. This kind of finding has implications for our understanding of sentience and well-being. insects and will hopefully encourage an ever greater respect and protection of life on Earth,” she said in the statement.

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