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Bees Solve Complex Problems Faster Than Supercomputers (Today's Most Popular)




In a landmark 2010 study, researchers found that bumblebees were able to figure out the most efficient routes among several computer-controlled "flowers," quickly solving a complex problem that even stumps supercomputers. We already know bees are pretty good at facial recognition, and researchers have shown they can also be effective air-quality monitors. 

Bumblebees can solve the classic "traveling salesman" problem, which keeps supercomputers busy for days. They learn to fly the shortest possible route between flowers even if they find the flowers in a different order, according to the British study.

The traveling salesman problem is a  problem in computer science; it involves finding the shortest possible route between cities, visiting each city only once. Bees are the first animals to figure this out, according to Queen Mary University of London researchers.

Bees need lots of energy to fly, so they seek the most efficient route among networks of hundreds of flowers using angles of sunlight, which helps them find their way home, researchers say. To do this, their tiny brains must pack a powerful memory.

To test bee problem-solving, researchers Lars Chittka and Mathieu Lihoreau tested bees’ response to computer-controlled artificial flowers. They wanted to see whether the bees would go after the flowers in the order in which they were discovered, or if they would figure out the shortest route among all the flowers even as new ones were added. The bees explored the locations of the flowers and quickly figured out the shortest paths among them, according to a Queen Mary news release.

This is no small feat, especially considering the tiny size of bee brains. When it comes to certain types of intelligence, size apparently does not matter.

Earlier this year, researchers showed that bees recognize individual faces because they can make out the relative patterns that make up a face. The new research further suggests bees are highly sophisticated problem solvers, and that better understanding of their brains could improve our understanding of network problems like traffic flows, supply chains and epidemiology.

The research will be published this week in the journal The American Naturalist.

Casey Kazan via Queen Mary University of London



It is not surprising that bees seem to be individually smart as well as collectively smart. Humans are a social species so by default, we are partially a collective species. If society breaks down, one person can't go fix everything, it would require many people with different areas of expertise. It would not surprise me if the most successful intelligent life in the universe comes from a collective species like ants or bees. Where humans have instinctive desires to be successful individually, the collective species works for the colony - or else. For example, you might have individualized species like ours destroying themselves 10% of the time after they enter the atomic era while less than 1% of collective species perish after splitting the atom. The stats could be worse for the antimatter era, but we may have migrated sizable populations off world by then so extinction might not be as likely. The downside for everyone is that we probably wouldn't get along with collective species because we might see them as being like drones.

In the Holy Quran ,You read in Surat An-nahl( Arabic word means bees)verses68,69:And Your Lord inspired the bee ,saying:Take your habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what you erect. Then eat of all fruits , and follow the ways of your Lord made easy (for you).There comes forth from their bellies ,a drink of varying colour wherein is healing for men .Verily ,in this is indeed a sign for people who think.

kenaanjelili what the fuck does that have to do with anything, lol???

@weknowknothing, your comment is great, very much reminded me of the ender books if you have not read them i recommend you read them


I think it's just you that knows nothing. The antimatter era? Please stop reading Dan Brown novels.

I think Queen Mary University needs better supercomputers.

@kenaanjelili: please do not mix up science with your strong religion and beliefs. In Europe, we have gone through this already (in the Dark/Middle Ages) and the overall results were no good for anybody. I'd prefer and wait and see what the future results of this experiments may bee.


the bird and the bee are among the worlds most amazing problem solver's ...
and considering their size it is simply amazing.

we make computers but have hardly began to comprehend the true value of it..

we talk about evolution and barely comprehend that size isn't every thing,

in fact being small challenges you harder than being large and thusly makes more of what you have.

Simplest example is kids , we all know kids can be astoundingly bright and that's the thing !

Size is not every thing..

atoms are small and yet do an increadable amount of work

Size isn't every thing.

*end of*

The only thing I know about the Quran is that it knows nothing and nothingness is it's destiny.

i am surprise that some people who think that the earth is 6000 years old, are reading this site. lol

Bees are just incredible all round. @Weknownothing as collective species the bees have evolved a variety of special tactics and skills that blow you mind.

@Frank , maybe in your part of Europe. In our part religion and science could not exist without each other. You're welcome for the Renaissance by the way :)

@god_of_physics - I was unaware that THE god of physics would be reading this. I spoke to the god of writing and she told me that I should have inserted a "for instance" to my anti-matter hypo (surely the god of physics knows how unlikely it is that the atomic era is the end-all in terms of our energy use - i.e. fire, wind, water, steam, electricity, atomic, ???, ???, ???). Then I spoke to the god of common sense and he told me that any idiot should know it was not a statement of fact. I'll just let you work it out with the other gods. BTW, who is Dan Brown? Any relation to Doc Brown?

@ashvin - They don't do any reading on this site, their skills are confined solely to the art of spamming and preaching with their ear plugs firmly in place.

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