Walter Farina of Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina experimented training bees to seek out sunflowers more than other plants. He was successful in training the bees to travel to sunflowers and increased the production of seeds by 29 to 57%.
He was able to accomplish this by feeding the bees sunflower scented food in the nest. The team is developing other scents to encourage bees to pollinate a variety of crops such as almonds.
What is also important about the success of this experiment is that it further substantiates the fact that bees have long-term memory. Memory of any kind indicates a thinking process, showing us that even insects are smarter than most people give them credit for.
Rachael Winfree, a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick conducted a study of 131 farms across the United States and in British Columbia Canada.
The team of scientists collected data on the insect pollination of crop flowers and yields for apples, high bush blueberries, sweet cherries, tart cherries, almonds, watermelons and pumpkins. They found that apples, sweet cherries, tart cherries and blueberries showed the most decline in fruit yields. Wild bees and honey bees are the main pollinators for these crops.
This is directly related to the decline in pollinating insects, primarily bees of all types. Homeowners can contribute to the increase of these insects in a variety of ways. You do not need a large area to plant bee and pollinating insect flowers. Also avoid using insecticides.
I maintain gardens around my home that produce flowers from early spring to late fall. Besides Butterfly bushes, you can plant Coneflowers, dwarf flowering bushes such as My Monet Weigelia, and dwarf Crepe Myrtles. These are some suggestions for small areas that attract butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects. The advantage of having Coneflowers is that if you do not deadhead them and leave the flowers on the plant until spring, the birds love the seeds in the fall and winter. Some of these plants can be grown in containers.
Since scientists have known that bees understand the concept of zero, they wanted to determine if bees could perform the basic math functions of adding and subtracting. Their tests have shown that bees can do this.
This is very important because solving math problems requires the use of both long- and short-term memory and the complex mental management of numbers.
The team from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia taught the bees to recognize colors that represent addition and subtraction. Once the bees were taught the meaning of the colors, they were able to use the colors to solve math addition and subtraction problems. While this level of math may seem simple to us, it really involves complex thought processes.
In past studies, beekeepers claimed that they did not get stung by their bees (at least not too much) because the bees understood that they meant no harm and were friendly to the keepers. If bees can perform mathematical functions it is certainly reasonable that they could understand their relationship to bee keepers.
What is amazing is that the tiny bee brain can do this. As we discover more ways to communicate with animals and insects, it will open a whole new world and understanding of our animal and insect friends.
The only barrier we have to fully understanding other creatures is the barrier of language. How amazing this finding is because it shows us how much we have yet to learn.