Dumb Bumblebees Are Better Workers


Just because you’re the smartest bee in the hive, doesnt mean youll be any good at working. In reality, when it comes to collecting pollen, it often pays to be dumb.

New research by the Royal Holloway in London and the University of Guelph in Canada looked at howbumblebees’ learning ability paired up withtheir foraging performance and contribution to the settlement. The learn is published in Scientific Reports.

Their makes showed that slow-learning bumblebees foraged for substantially longer than the bees that were able to learn speedily duringassociation-building chores. There was also no difference in the rates of foraging between the two groups of bees, signifying the smart ones just foragedfor less period and were worse at foraging overall.

“This study provides the first evidence of a learning-associated cost in the wild, ” Dr Lisa Evans, Plant& Food Research scientist at Royal Holloway, said in astatement.“Our the findings are surprising, since we are typically associate improved learning performance and cognitive ability with improved fitness, because it is considered beneficial to the survival of an individual or group.

The researchers looked at 85 bees from five different settlements and subjected them to a visual learn performance quiz that tested how well the bees learned whichcolored buds contained more pollen than others. Radio frequency identification labelling technology was used to way how quickly the bees constructed the association and how much pollen they collected in the wild.

When it came to adding up how much the bees had the accumulated, the slower bees were considerablybetter at compiling than the smart bees.This stands in opposition to what we tend to assumeabout bees, as we typicallythink that reading is particularly important to their success.

A previous study in 2008produced opposite makes, instead discovering thatfast-learning bees performed better and weremore likely to keep track of which buds comprised the most rewards. However, this new learn quarrels the validity of thoseresults, as the current study followed the foraging performance of bees whose reading has hitherto been assessed, while the older learn employed different individuals. This, the present squad tell, could have swayed research results as a bumblebee’sperformance can vary depending on acolony’s developmental stage and aworker’s reproductive status.

The researchers posit a possible rationale for ther own findings: “Neural tissue is metabolically expensive to produce and preserve, ” Dr Evans adds. “Foraging is energy demanding, but so is learning. This may explain the significantly shorter foraging lifespan of fast-learning bumblebees.”

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