HONEY bees can be trained to count up to four, Queensland researchers have found.
They say their research has shown that bees, which live for a month, can learn colours and smells and be trained to fly through complicated mazes.
One experiment showed the bees can be trained to differentiate between up to four separate landmarks before becoming confused.
“Beyond four they searched equally at all the landmarks, as if they couldn’t tell which one it was,” Professor Mandyam Srinivasan, of the University of Queensland’s Brain Research Institute, said yesterday.
Previous analogous studies had shown bees could store details of three separate locations of pollen-laden flowers in a “diary”.
“However, we were looking purely at sequential counting, whereas they were looking more at how many different items a bee could remember,” he said.
The research probed the capacity of a creature with a tiny brain, Professor Srinivasan said. The bee brain is about the size of a sesame seed, but research has shown it has many of the traits of the human brain, including complex behaviour such as advanced memory and learning.