"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Bees can learn, remember, think and make decisions – here's a have a look at how they navigate the world.

As trees and flowers bloom in spring, bees emerge from their winter nests and hives. For many species it's time to mate, and a few will start latest solitary nests or colonies.

Bees and other pollinators are essential to human society. They provide a few third of our food, a service estimated to have a worldwide value. up to $577 billion annually.

But bees are interesting in lots of other ways which might be less well-known. In my latest book, “What a Bee Knows: Exploring the Thoughts, Memories, and Personalities of Bees“I draw on my experience. Have been studying bees for almost 50 years. To discover how these creatures perceive the world and their amazing abilities to navigate, learn, communicate and remember. Here are a number of the things I've learned.

It's not all about hives and honey.

As individuals are more conversant in bees, many individuals assume that each one bees are social and live in hives or colonies with a queen. In fact, bees are only 10% social, and most species don't make honey.

Most bees live solitary lives, digging nests in the bottom or finding beetle burrows in dead wood to call home. Some bees are kleptoparasites. Hiding in empty nests to lay eggsJust as cowbirds lay eggs within the nests of other birds and leave unsuspecting foster parents Raise their chicks.

A number of species of tropical bees, generally known as vultures, survive. eating the dead. Their guts contain acid-loving bacteria that enable bees to digest rotting flesh.

A busy mind

The world looks very different to a bee than it does to a human, but bees' perceptions are hardly easy. Bees are intelligent animals. Pain is likely to be feltpatterns and smells and even remember Recognize human faces.. They Can solve mazes and other problems and use easy tools.

Research shows that bees Self-aware And there may even be one An early form of consciousness. Between six and ten hours bees spend. Sleep everyday, Memories are strong Inside their amazing brain – a poppy seed-sized organ containing 1 million nerve cells. There are some indications of this. Bees can also dream.. I would really like to think so.

An alien sensory world

Bees' sensory experience of the world is distinctly different from ours. For example, humans see the world through primary colours. Red, green and blue. There are primary colours for bees. Green, blue and ultraviolet.

Bees have vision. 60 times less fast than humans: A hoverfly cannot see the small print of a flower until it's about 10 inches away. However, bees can see invisible ultraviolet flower patterns which might be invisible to us, and these patterns lead bees to flower nectar.

Naturalist David Attenborough uses ultraviolet light to point out how flowers can look different to bees than to humans.

Bees can even see flowers by detecting color changes at a distance. When humans watch a movie projected at 24 frames per second, individual images appear motion-blurred. This phenomenon, called Flicker fusion frequency, indicates how capable our visual systems are at resolving moving images. Bees have a really high flicker fusion frequency – you've got to run the film 10 times faster to make them look blurry – so that they can fly over a meadow of flowers and Look for bright spots of flower color which might not be noticeable to humans.

From afar, bees detect flowers by scent. A bee has a way of smell. 100 times more sensitive in comparison with us. Scientists have used bees to smell chemicals. Associated with cancer And With diabetes on the breath of patients and to detect its presence High explosives.

Bees even have a highly developed sense of touch: they'll feel tiny ridges like a fingerprint. On the petals of some flowers. There are bees. Almost deaf Most are sensitive to airborne sounds, unless they're very near the source, but in the event that they are standing on a vibrating surface.

Problem solvers

Bees Can navigate mazes So can rats, and studies show that they're self-aware of their very own body dimensions. For example, when fat bumblebees were trained to fly after which walk across a chunk of wood to the opposite side for food, the bees Turned their bodies to one side and tucked into their legs..

Experiments by Canadian researcher Peter Kevin and Lars Chatka in England demonstrated remarkable feats of learning in bees. The bumblebees were trained to drag a string — in other words, to make use of a tool — attached to a plastic disc with a hidden depression stuffed with sugar water. They could see the sugar wells but couldn't get the reward. Except for pulling on the string until the disk is exposed.

Other employee bees were placed nearby in a screen cage where they may see what their trained hive mates did. Once released, this second group also pulled strings for sweet treats. This study proved what scientists say. Social Education – Acting in ways in which reflect the behavior of others.

Pollination with vibration

Even pollination, one of the well-known bee behaviors, will be more complicated than it seems.

The basic process is similar for all species of bees: the feminine carries pollen grains, plant gametes, from flower to flower on her body as she feeds herself and her brood. Collects pollen and nectar. When pollen rubs on it. A flower scarthe result's pollination.

My favorite area of ​​bee research examines a way called buzz jargon. Bees apply it to about 10% of the world's 350,000 species of flowering plants which have special properties. anthers – Structures that produce pollen.

For example, the five anthers of a tomato flower pinch together just like the closed fingers of a hand. Pollen is released through one or two small pores at the top of every anther.

When a female beetle lands on a tomato flower, she cuts an anther in the center and contracts her flight muscles. 100 to 400 times per second. This powerful vibration forces the pollen out of the anther pores in the shape of a cloud that hits the bee. All this happens in a number of tenths of a second.

Bumblebees performing buzz pollination on a Persian violet flower.

The bee hangs by one leg and scrapes the pollen into “baskets” – structures on its hind legs. She then repeats the decision on the remaining anthers before moving on to different flowers.

Bees also use buzz pollination on the flowers of blueberries, cranberries, eggplant, and kiwi fruit. My colleagues and I are conducting experiments to find out biomechanics. How the vibration of the bee removes the pollen from the anthers..

Planting for bees

Many bee species are in decline worldwide, including because of pressure Parasites, pesticides and habitat loss.

A backyard 'insect hotel' for solitary bees and other nesting insects, manufactured from logs, bricks and wood blocks.
Artera/Universal Images Group v. Getty Images

Whether you've got an apartment window box or several acres of land, there are a number of easy things you may do to assist bees.

First, plant native wildflowers so flowers can be found all season. Second, attempt to avoid using pesticides or herbicides. Third, provide open ground where granary bees can nest. With luck, you'll have some latest neighbors soon.