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Scientists teach bees how to play FOOTBALL (video)

Feb 24, 2017

Nature: Bees quickly master an insect version of football — with a sweet reward at the end — just by watching another bee handle the ball, suggesting that the tiny pollinators are capable of sophisticated learning, says a study in Science.

Bumblebees watched a fellow bee tugging a ball into a goal, which earned the athlete a gulp of sugar water. The observing bees could soon do the task themselves. They even figured out how to nab the reward with less effort. "They’re not just blindly copying. They’re doing something better," says study co-author and behavioural ecologist Olli Loukola of Queen Mary University of London.

Previous research has shown that insects are capable of advanced cognitive tasks. But this is the first time that insects have shown they can become adept at actions far removed from the job of being a bee, the study authors say. The fact the creatures learned a complex skill by watching their fellow bees rather than by undergoing long, incremental training was also another first.

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