Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Buzz Off: Bee Swarms Form Giant Brains

Daniel Prudek/Shutterstock.com

New research from the University of Sheffield in the UK published in Scientific Reports suggests that individual members of a bee swarm behave like neurons in a human brain. The scientists applied a theoretical model commonly used to study human psychology to the behavior of bee colonies, and they believe that studying “bee speak” could inform us about how our own minds make decisions. In the field of psychophysics, Weber’s law describes a relationship between the size of a stimulus and noticeable increases in its magnitude. This general rule about stimulus and perception has been observed in birds, fish and even the collective behavior of simpler organisms, but not in whole clusters of tiny brains such as an insect hive. To investigate its role in the decision-making processes of the European honey bee (Apis mellifera), the researchers watched hives split apart and hunt for new homes. Among bees, the process of choosing a hive comes down to the interactions of scout bees communicating their discoveries through a visual display of body wiggles. “The study also supports the view of bee colonies as being similar to complete organisms,” says computer scientist and lead author Andreagiovanni Reina.
Upcoming Events Near You
Current Issue
 

 

 
 

 

Join Our Email List

Receive Digital Magazine and Special Offers

* indicates required
Email Format

Receive Digital Magazine, Special Offers and Advertising Information

* indicates required
Email Format

Virtual Interior Paint Color Consultation

2 Tickets to 2020 Charlotte Sustainability Awards

Global Brief
Health Brief