AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Don’t BEE Hating on BEES (Bees and Emotion)

Have you ever stepped on a bee or crushed it out of anger because it was bothering you?  Little did you probably realize that there is scientific evidence that bees, do in fact, experience emotion.  Biologist Clint Perry, University of London demonstrated this phenomenon in his bee experiment.  In order to see if bees really did experience emotion he ran a test with a blue flower and a green flower.  The blue flower had a 30 percent sugar solution, ultimately causing the bees to associate blue flowers with a sweet treat.

After this he created another experiment in which 50% of his bees were given sugar water and the other half were not.  He set up colored flowers and in his experiment found that the bees given a 60% sugar water solution to drink flew more quickly to the flower they were trained to go to (in this case the blue one), compared to the bees that were not given sugar water.  This sugar seemed to have “amped up the bees into a positive emotional state, making them more optimistic that the flower would contain a sugary treat.”  The author of this article compared this to humans and how after eating a sweat treat are in a better emotional state and feel happy.  Another experiment done was with a drug that disrupted receptors of dopamine, causing the preference and motivation to disappear.  This proves the importance of the chemical dopamine in the brain.  Dopamine is ultimately what is giving the bees emotion.  It is important to understand that biologist Clint Perry did not prove that bees have feelings, because feelings are different than emotion. “Emotions are the body’s adaptive response to external events or stimuli.  Feelings are subjective to experience of them.”  In this experiment emotions were tested because it tested the bees response to something rather than past experience.

Now that we know bees have emotion is it possible that eventually they may acquire feelings?  Maybe you will think twice the next time you swat a bee away!

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  1. oxergin

    Maybe this chemical balance of dopamine is extended to more than just bees. A study shows that an influx of dopamine in larvae, effected their growth, not allowing them to start metamorphosis. Clearly a chemical unbalance has a huge effect on insects as well. Do you think that larvae experience emotion like bees?

  2. hutcherozygous

    There was also a study that found the bees to experience anxiety . The bees begin “vigorous shaking designed to simulate a predatory attack.” This shaking and fast reaction could be another sign of bees having emotions.
    More here:

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