behavior | What do we know about the individual intelligence of the bee?

Is the behavior that bees exhibit instinctive? Are they just imitating each other? Or is it really individual intelligence? These experiences say: the latter is true.

Of course, we are talking about a much smaller brain that controls this behavior than our own. Pinhead size. The brains of bees also contain a much smaller number of neurons. But despite this, you can find a lot of complex connections in the brains of bees. A single neuron in a bee’s brain can have the structure of a full-grown oak tree, with up to 10,000 connections to other cells.

Researcher Lars Schitka looks at what this means for their behavior from a psychological angle. In his new book, The Mind of the Bee (highly recommended!) he uses special experiments to show that it’s not about instinctive behavior, nor about herd behavior, but about individual intelligence.

Bees can count, differentiate between images of faces – and this is no joke: use tools. You can hear all about it in this audio.

The book can be ordered here (in English): bee mind – Lars Schitka. A rich and surprising exploration of the intelligence of bees. Or ask your local library for the Dutch version: “Bee Consciousness”.

More on Chittka’s work: Bee Sensory and Behavioral Environment Laboratory

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Megan Vasquez

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