The secret lives of bees

August 04, 2011

Here’s a piece about how scientiest are trying to find out whether bees are capable of emotions. Yes, I know. But still, read this excerpt, it’s kind of mind-boggling:

In a procedure meant to simulate a badger attack on a hive, the bees were shaken for one minute in a benchtop machine used to vigorously mix chemicals. If anything would put bees in bad mood, this would be it. Next, both shaken and unshaken bees were tested on five mixtures of hexanol and octanone at different concentrations. Unsurprisingly, both groups were more likely to advance their mouths to octanol heavy mixtures (which predicted sugar) than hexanol heavy mixtures (which predicted quinine). Interestingly though, the shaken bees were more reluctant to advance toward the mixtures than their unshaken counterparts. In an analogue of the classic half-empty vs. half-full scenario, in which an equal mixture of hexanol and octanone was presented, control bees gave the concoction the benefit of the doubt. They advanced their mouths in anticipation of food on more than half of trials. Shaken bees, on the other hand, were far more likely to recoil. The stress of shaking had turned them into pessimists who interpreted the ambiguous odor as half-threatening, rather than half-appetizing.