Keeping Count

Just when you think that you can close the book on honeybees, another dimension of intrigue arises. New research and experiments now show that honeybees (and possibly other pollinators) can count.

Well, perhaps the term “counting” isn’t quite apt. Actually, bees can distinguish patterns. They can tell the difference between two and three and four and can remember landmarks in order to reach a destination or food location. After a fourth element is introduced, the bees tend to get confused.

Previous experiments have shown that birds, primates, dolphins, raccoons and salamanders have some kind of numerical ability as well. However, we must remember that the size of a honeybee brain is no bigger than a period.

Interestingly, past research shows that humans have trouble remembering more than four things at a time as well.

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