The first study to show the play of bumblebees

animal behavior (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / j.anbehav.2022.08.013 “width =” 800 “height =” 343 “/>
Experimental setup for the training phase (aerial view). A nest is connected to a colorful room via a tunnel. The chamber was connected to a flight deck with feeders providing ad sucrose (S) or pollen (P); Their locations were switched on each trial day. The colored training room was either yellow or blue. One of the colored chambers contained moving balls and the other was empty. Barriers at the entrance to the colored room prevent bees from seeing the presence/absence of objects. Only one color chamber was presented at a time and switched every 20 minutes (six times each) for a total of 2 hours of exposure for each color. One group of bees was trained to a yellow chamber containing balls and another group to a blue chamber containing balls. This experimental stage was carried out for two consecutive days for each bee. attributed to him: animal behavior (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / j.anbehav.2022.08.013

Bumblebees play, according to new research led by Queen Mary University of London published in animal behavior. This is the first time that object-playing behavior has been shown in an insect, adding to mounting evidence that bees may be feeling positive “emotions”.

The team of researchers conducted several experiments to test their hypothesis, which showed that bumblebees went out of their way to roll wooden balls repeatedly despite no apparent incentive to do so.

The study also found that younger bees rolled more balls than older bees, reflecting human behavior of young children and other young mammals and birds being the most playful, and that male bees rolled them longer than their female counterparts.

Bee rolling balls. Credit: Samadi Galpayage.

The study followed 45 bumblebees in a yard and gave them the options of walking an obstacle-free path to reach the feeding area or deviating from this path to areas with wooden balls. Individual bees rotated the balls an impressive between 1 and 117 times during the experiment. The repetitive behavior indicates that rolling the ball was rewarding.

This was supported by another experiment where 42 other bees were allowed access to two colored rooms, one with always moving balls and one without any objects. When tested and given the choice between the two chambers without balls, the bees showed a preference for the chamber color previously associated with wooden balls.

The setup of the experiments removed any notion that the bees were moving the balls for any purpose other than play. Rolling balls did not contribute to survival strategies, such as obtaining food, de-cluttering, or mating, and this was done under stress-free conditions.

An example of a ball being rolled by a bumblebee with a speed x 0.5. The bee approaches a colored wooden ball and faces it, touches the ball with its front legs, catches the ball using all its legs, rolls the ball, detaches from the ball and lets go. The bee approaches a second ball, rolls it and separates it. attributed to him: animal behavior (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / j.anbehav.2022.08.013

The research builds on previous experiments from the same lab at Queen Mary, which showed that bumblebees can be taught to score a goal, by rolling a ball to a goal, in exchange for a sugary food reward. During the previous experiment, the team noticed that bumblebees rolled balls out of the experiment, without getting any food reward.

The new research showed that bees repeatedly roll balls without being trained and without receiving any food to do so – this was both voluntary and spontaneous – and thus similar to play behavior as seen in other animals.

Study first author, Samadi Galbage, Ph.D. “It’s surprising, and at times fun, to watch bumblebees display something like toys,” says a student at Queen Mary University of London. “They approach and manipulate these ‘toys’ over and over. And their little brains, they are more than just tiny robots.”

“They may in fact experience some kind of positive emotional states, even if primitive, like other animals that are not very gentle or kind. This kind of discovery has implications for our understanding of the feelings and well-being of insects, and hopefully encourages us to respect and protect life on Earth more than ever. gone.”

Professor Lars Schitka, Professor of Sensory and Behavioral Ecology at Queen Mary University of London, Laboratory Leader and author of the latest book, The Bee Mind, says, “This research provides a strong indication that insect minds are much more complex than insect minds. We might imagine. There are a lot of animals out there. that play just for fun, but most examples come from small mammals and birds.”

“We are producing ever-increasing amounts of evidence supporting the need to do everything we can to protect insects a million miles away from the reckless, emotionless creatures traditionally believed to be.”

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more information:
Hiruni Samadi Galpayage – Where do bumblebees play?, animal behavior (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / j.anbehav.2022.08.013

Submitted by Queen Mary, University of London

the quote: First study showing bumblebee play (2022, Oct 27) Retrieved Oct 29, 2022 from

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