Minister’s Blog

11 June 2019

I have always thought that bees were very mathematical. The honeycomb speaks for itself. The perfectly formed hexagons are an extraordinary celebration of the bees’ mathematical mind.  But there’s more to it than that!

Scientists at the University of Melbourne have just discovered that bees have the brain power to link symbols to numbers. It’s what we do almost naturally and without thinking. We link the figure ‘2’ to twoness.

Although their brain is no bigger than a sesame seed and about 20,000 times  smaller than a human brain,  bees are able to learn that a particular shape represents a specific numerical amount.

Interestingly, the bees’ brain is denser than the brain of a human being and so the bee can learn and recall things much more quickly!  As Professor Adrian Dyer said, ‘This opens up exciting new pathways for future communication across species.’  So where do we go from here, little bee?