Monday, November 17, 2008

Bee Brains and Emotions

Bees have a brain the size of a sesame seed, yet they can perform marvellous feats of navigation, count to four and learn tasks, patterns, colours and odours. So says Professor Mandyam Srinivasan (Mandyam Srinivasan), the winner of the Prime Minister's Prize for Science in 2006 and a Queensland Smart State Premier's Fellowship in 2007.

And what about emotions? Emotions in organisms other than people is a controversial topic to some. Much depends on the definition of an "emotion" and then there are the human emotions that arise when it comes to describing people as animals.

This discussion fits in a number of ways with the human-honey bee interface. Take, for instance, the honey bee dance "language." Other topics in the emotional realm might be "telling the bees" when their beekeeper has died, and the idea that bees notice when the beekeeper is not calm in manipulating a colony, resulting in more stings.

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