One, two, BEE, four! Research shows that the tiny insects can be trained to ...

Scientists have discovered that not only are bees expert honey-makers, but they can also be trained to link symbols to numbers to get food. 

Previous research has shown that the tiny creatures, with a brain the size of a sesame seed, can count and recognise the concept of zero.

This experiment used a sugary reward or a bitter punishment to train them how to learn the correct route to take in a maze by connecting a symbol with the number.

The studies combined show that a well-trained bee can learn how humans learn numbers as children, but they said the insects got fuzzy after four. 

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Bee brains have evolved to be so energy efficient that they can count using only four brain cells, scientists have found. Simulations with a simple brain model used just four nerve cells and found this simple organ would be able to count up to, and beyond, five (stock image)

Bee brains have evolved to be so energy efficient that they can count using only four brain cells, scientists have found. Simulations with a simple brain model used just four nerve cells and found this simple organ would be able to count up to, and beyond, five (stock image)

HOW DID THEY TEACH BEES HOW TO CONNECT SYMBOLS WITH NUMBERS?

The team wanted to see if they could understand numbers when they were represented symbolically.

The bees were trained using a Y-shaped maze. At the entrance there was a symbol, which either represented the number 2 or 3. 

Then, when they came to the fork the bees had a choice of routes. 

Again there was a sign above the routes, but this time the sign contained shapes — two on one side, three on the other. 

To solve this bee brainteaser, the insects had to choose the route marked by the right number of shapes.

If they did so, they were rewarded with sweet nectar. If they failed, they were punished with bitter quinine. 

 

In the last study, conducted by the same team from RMIT University in Australia, tests involved presenting a dozen bees with symbols on pieces of paper.

Compared to a piece with one to six shapes on it, they knew that an empty sheet meant no shapes. 

This experiment tested the bees intellect even further.

The team wanted to see if they could understand numbers when they were represented symbolically.

The bees were trained using a Y-shaped maze. At the entrance was a symbol, which was either represented by the number 2 or 3. 

When they came to

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