Bug Blog

Study Finds Male Bees Are Just As Intelligent As Female Bees

It has long been assumed, even among the experts, that male bumblebees are less intelligent than their female counterparts. The males are known simply as “male bumblebees” while the female bumblebees are known as the “worker bees,” and these roles are tightly regulated within a bee colony. Since the worker bees have more responsibilities to the colony than male bees, it has been assumed that the worker bees must have developed greater neural activity necessary to the varied tasks that they perform day in and day out. However, a recent study conducted at Queen Mary University of London shows that male bees can be just as smart as the female worker bees.

The study demonstrated that male bees were just as quick as worker bees at learning which flowers contain food and which ones don’t after each type of bee was trained by experts to find the flowers with food. Also, male bees and worker bees are on equal footing when it comes to recognizing color, which bees depend on constantly to differentiate objects in the environment. Unlike worker bees, the behavior of male bees does not seem to extend beyond seeking out sex, which is why the male bee has always been considered a relative dimwit next to the responsible and productive worker bees. This study is the first to suggest that this way of thinking may not be correct.

Do you think that the two pieces of evidence used in this study to demonstrate that male bees are just as smart as female bees is conclusive? Or do questions still remain and are further studies still necessary before determining the relative intelligence level of male and female bees?