Scientists Solve Mystery Behind Flight of the Bumblebee

Scientists Solve Mystery Behind Flight of the Bumblebee

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Bumblebees will buzz around flowers throughout the day in a seemingly random manner. But a recent study, published in PLOS Biology, has discovered that in fact bees are constantly working out the quickest route to collect the most amount of food. Despite having brains the “size of grass seeds”, bumblebees are able to calculate the most efficient route from flowers back to the nest.

The research team attached tiny antennae to tens of bees that pinged back the location of the insects as they foraged for pollen and nectar. The results showed that the bees would try a number of different routes to a flower and between plants in order to work out the quickest way to and from a food source. Within hours or even minutes, the apparently random ‘flight of the bumblebee’ is an efficient and learned route.

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