APR 22, 2017 08:40 AM PDT

Smarter Bees Aren't as Good at Foraging, Study Shows

Is being smarter an advantage? Apparently, it depends on what type of creature you are and what you do to make the world go ‘round.

If you’re a human being, perhaps being smarter has its advantages, but a study published in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that if you’re a bee, being smarter actually comes with a lot more downsides than anything else.

Smarter bees reportedly forage less than their dumber counterparts.

Image Credit: Pieterz/Pixabay

The study, which was conducted by researchers from both Royal Holloway, Plant & Food Research, and the University of Guelph, revealed that bees known to be smarter than others were much less effective at gathering resources for their colony than their ‘dumber’ counterparts were, a behavior known as foraging.

The researchers came up with this conclusion by first measuring the intelligence and ability to learn of 85 bees. Afterwards, they tagged each bee so that they could tell them apart. Following the tagging, each bee was then allowed to gather resources for the colony, including nectar and other food supplies.

Interestingly, the bees that were deemed smarter than average were observed collecting resources at the same speed as normal-intelligence bees would, but they would have a much shorter foraging lifespan. In turn, they were less valuable to the colony.

Related: Can we save the bees? [Infographic]

"Our results are surprising, because we typically associate enhanced learning performance and cognitive ability with improved fitness, because it is considered beneficial to the survival of an individual or group," says Royal Holloway graduate and Plant & Food Research scientist Dr Lisa Evans in a statement. "This study provides the first evidence of a learning-associated cost in the wild."

This doesn’t mean that smarter bees would die sooner, but rather, it means they would retire from foraging much faster than a normal-intelligence bee would. This ultimately means they collect fewer resources throughout their lifespan.

One of the theories behind why this is the case is that development of neural tissue is energy-intensive, as is collecting resources for the colony. Because the bees only have so much energy to begin with, smarter bees have to divide their energy more between physical activity and brain activity, whereas dumber bees focus more on physical activity entirely.

When push comes to shove, perhaps being smarter than the rest isn’t always an advantage. Then again, it really depends what your duties are, because physical activity has never really been a preferential forte for Brainiacs.

Whether or not the same implications can be applied to other animal species has not yet been scientifically proven, however future studies could provide more insight.

Source: Phys.org

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUN 27, 2018
Earth & The Environment
JUN 27, 2018
Hawaii's post-eruption ecosystems
Hawaii was built by volcanoes, and the recent Kilauea eruption in Puna on the big island of Hawaii shows us in live-action what scientists already had clea...
JUN 27, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUN 27, 2018
Kansas Zoo Flamingo Escapee Spotted in Texas
Kansas Zoo lost two of its flamingos in 2005 after negligent staff allowed them to go too long between feather trimming procedures, a measure that was used...
JUL 18, 2018
Cannabis Sciences
JUL 18, 2018
Light controls variants of active ingredient in cannabis
Chemists have synthesized several variants of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. The ability to alter its structure with light has led to a new tool f...
AUG 07, 2018
Health & Medicine
AUG 07, 2018
You Want Crickets With That?
Hey everyone, it’s snack time! Come on up and grab some delicious crickets, yum yum. Said no one ever. But maybe, in the future, insects might be a s...
SEP 16, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 16, 2018
If You Thought T. Rex Was Big, Then Watch This
Dinosaur-themed Hollywood movies have hyped up Tyrannosaurus Rex, making it seem like the king of all dinosaurs. But realistically, T. Rex was quite small...
SEP 19, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
SEP 19, 2018
Forensic Efforts To Combat Ivory Poaching
Scientists are using DNA testing to identify poaching hotspots, and criminal networks....
Loading Comments...