New Study States that Bees Understand Concept of Zero


Research conducted by RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia revealed that honeybees have an understanding of zero.

Honeybees are known for the sweet honey they produce and the network of colonies they build with detailed precision. Bees are excellent learners, as they can remember where the juiciest flower is and have the ability to communicate with each other. A new research has found that the organism which has 5-7 species around the world has a sense of zero just like humans.

The researchers from RMIT University, Melbourne trained the honeybees to pick the lowest number out of an array of options for a reward of sugar solution. A sheet of paper with different number of objects on it was placed in front of them. The bees were taught to fly to the sheet with least number of objects. Scarlett Howard, the chief researcher marked individual bees for identification. The bees were seen to pick the lowest of number of elements presented to them. To further justify the result, images containing no elements against an image containing one or more elements was presented. The bees choose an image with no elements proving their understanding of zero. The bees continued the phenomenon even when a reward of sugar solution was not kept. 60 to 70 % of the time the bees choose blank images over filled ones. To eliminate the possibility of the behavior being merely a chance controlled experiments were carried out for three years.

The report was published by RMIT on June 7, 2018. The discovery rewards honeybees with a special place in the club of animals with the sense of nothing. The other animals include monkeys and birds. The neurological understanding of a bee’s brain could also beneficial in development of Artificial Intelligence.