Home > Lifestyle > Environmental Health > News 05 April 2013 Bees use logic to find the best flowers Scientists have discovered why bees copy each other when looking for nectar. EurekAlert 0 iStock Related Govts undecided on pesticide ban to protect bees World agriculture suffers from loss of wild bees How to survive a bee swarm Start A Health24 blog » Follow Health24 on Facebook » Test Are you envirohealth savvy? » Ask EnviroHealth Expert » Blood Lions: Bred for the Bullet movie trailer The amazing mountains on Pluto Scientists at Queen Mary, University of London and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), have discovered why bees copy each other when looking for nectar – and the answer is remarkably simple.Despite their tiny brains, bees are smart enough to pick out the most attractive flowers by watching other bees and learning from their behaviour. By using simple logic, they see which coloured flowers are the most popular, and conclude that those of the same colour must also contain lots of energy-rich nectar."Learning where to find nectar by watching others seems fantastically complex for a tiny bee, but it's something that almost any animal could do, in the right circumstances," says Dr Elli Leadbeater from ZSL's Institute for Zoology and co-author of the study published this week in Current Biology. Bees copy flower colour choicesMost worker bees visit thousands of flowers every day in their search for nectar to feed their queen's brood. Copying flower colour choices may be a shortcut to success, bypassing the exhausting process of exploring each flower to see if it contains hidden rewards. Tests were carried out in wooden laboratory "flight arenas" stocked with artificial flowers. Bees were trained to know that sugar could be found on flowers where other foragers were present. The bees then watched through a screen as their companions chose a particular flower colour, and ignored another.When later allowed to choose a flower colour alone, the test bees copied their companions' choices. "Naive foragers", who had never learnt to equate other bees with nectar, did not copy other bees' behaviour.Erika Dawson, a PhD student at Queen Mary, University of London adds: "Our study shows how bees use past associations to make decisions about when to copy others, but almost all other animals, including humans, are also capable of forming associations. For example, we might associate Easter with chocolate or injections with fear. This suggests that other species, not just bees, may also use this logical process when learning from others,"Bees use human logic"We suggest that bees are using similar logic to a person, who might get a headache, and the next day, feel very ill. A week later, the headache is back, accompanied by a nasty rash. Even though they do not feel ill this time, when the rash appears again the following week, they start to dread feeling ill again, and think about taking the next day off work." The scientists also found that bees consider whether their companions are making good choices. In laboratory "flight arenas", test bees did not copy other bees if they knew that those bees were visiting bitter-tasting flowers. Instead, the test bees actively avoided the flower colours that other bees chose. The flowers were made bitter using quinine - a flavour used in tonic water, which bees typically dislike. NEXT ON HEALTH24X Giving up one food will help your health – and the planet 2020-01-15 14:39 More: Environmental HealthNews advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Parenting What parents can do to prevent teens from driving drunk Medical New hope against a 'dizzying' form of migraine Medical Why many children with autism have oral health problems Medical Is that statin doing you any good? News Meet Salome Maswime, the trailblazing woman appointed as UCT’s new head of Global Surgery Medical THE REAL POLLEN COUNT: Invasive, highly allergenic weed is still being seen in Durban, although at very low levels Live healthier Lifestyle » E-cigarettes: Here are five things to know E-cigarettes have become hugely popular in the past decade, but a rash of vaping-linked deaths and illnesses in the US is feeding caution about a product that's already banned in some places. Allergy » Ditch the itch: Researchers find new drug to fight hives A new drug works by targeting an immune system antibody called immunoglobulin E, which is responsible for the allergic reaction that causes hives.