Research Suggests Bees Have Emotions And Are Sentient

Research Suggests Bees Have Emotions And Are Sentient

We've heard a lot about bees in recent years. They are more than just insects that make honey and sting us on occasion, they are crucial to our lives.

In the United States alone, bees are responsible for pollinating billions of dollars worth of crops on an annual basis, according to the USDA. Unfortunately, colony collapse and habitat destruction have caused a decline in bees, and this leaves many wondering how we will survive without them.

When you stop to think about it, bees are an essential agricultural insect. That being said, they don't get the same care as other animals that may live on a farm, such as a horse or a cow.

In fact, most people don't really give them much thought at all until they start disappearing. But that may be changing, if Stephen Buchmann has anything to say about it.

Buchmann is an ecologist and he wrote a book recently, "What a Bee Knows: Exploring the Thoughts, Memories and Personalities of Bees."

Even though bees have a tiny brain, about the size of a grain of sand, it seems as if there is much we have to learn about them or perhaps even from them. Recently, science has been looking into the mind of bees and has learned some interesting facts.

After learning more about bees, Buchmann and other scientists are reconsidering how they work with the insects and deal with them when it comes to research. They are considering them similar to mammals, such as monkeys or mice.

Experiments in the book actually took place quite a few years ago. At the University College of London, a professor did an experiment by hiding a robotic predatory spider inside of flowers.

If a bee got too close to the spider, it would grab it and frighten it. The robotic spider would then release the bee before long.

The bees that were caught and released learned from the example and they avoided the spider in the future. Something else that was observed among bees was a posttraumatic stress disorder symptom and they would be too frightened to even get near the flowers that were occupied.

They also did research on the brains of bees, noting they had a surge of serotonin and dopamine when they were given sugar. The bees that were provided with sugar would forage more than other bees.

Another behavior that was noted in these insects was that they would return to the flower patches that yielded the best results. This was interesting because the researcher noted that different flowers were blooming from one week to the next.

It really showed the memory capacity of the bees.

One researcher, Lars Chittka, also noted that invasive neuroscience experiments are often conducted on bees. They would use electrodes implanted into the body and no anesthesia.

According to The Guardian, Chittka feels this is worth reevaluating because there are no regulations regarding these types of experiments.

Bees have been disappearing at an alarming rate. Without bees in place, the plants don't get pollinated as easily and it could affect the food supply.

The loss of beehives has been increasing in recent years and many feel that the unhappy disposition of bees could contribute to that problem.

This is seen in large measure in almond groves, where bees used to be buzzing everywhere. That is no longer the case.

Many of the bees have disappeared, both for unknown reasons and due to various techniques used by the industry to salvage as many almonds as possible.

Perhaps Chittka sums it up best when he speaks about the unique qualities of bees. According to The Guardian, he said: "These unique minds, regardless of how much they may differ from our own, have as much justification to exist as we do. It is a wholly new aspect of how weird and wonderful the world is around us."

Timothy Roberts

I love to write and it keeps me busy. I've been working online, full time since 1999. When you can't find me at the keyboard, you'll find me getting as much as I can out of life. I enjoy living simply, playing games, visiting the beach, and spending time with my family.

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