Bees Have Emotions And Sugar Makes Them Happy, Study Suggests

Sugar raised the moods of bumblebees after encounters with spiders.

30/09/2016 12:21

There’s nothing quite like a sugar rush to lift your spirits, and it appears that bees would be inclined to agree.

A new study at Queen Mary University of London suggests bumblebees not only have emotions, but that they’re also influenced by sweet food.

Handout . / Reuters

In one test, bees were subjected to a simulated spider attack – a common occurrence in the wild.

Those that drank the sweet water beforehand returned to foraging faster than those who hadn’t.

In another experiment, bees were trained to learn that blue flowers would contain food and that green flowers wouldn’t. 

The bees which had received the sweet water subsequently took less time to land on an ambiguous, blue-green coloured flower.

Luigi Baciadonna, co-author and PhD candidate at QMUL, said: “Sweet food can improve negative moods in human adults and reduce crying of new-borns in response to negative events. Our results suggest that similar cognitive responses are occurring in bees.”

The scientists believe that neurochemicals involved in our own emotional processing may also affect bees’ mood.

Lead author Dr Clint J Perry said: “Investigating and understanding the basic features of emotion states will help us determine the brain mechanisms underlying emotion across all animals.”

The study was published in the journal Science

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