Researchers from the Royal University of Technology of Melbourne have built a special test maze to test the mathematical abilities of honeybees. The intelligence of these insects has been known for a long time - but the Australians decided to put before the bees the task of a different level of thinking. To pass the maze, insects needed to know and apply the principles of mathematics, logic and have a memory.
The labyrinth is built of typical cells, each of which consists of a receiving chamber and two exits. In the "right" is the reward in the form of sweet sugar, in the "wrong" portion of bitter quinine. The cells are arranged in such a way that the bee cannot orient itself by smell, in which direction to move. Instead, she must examine the color markers at the entrance to the cameras, perform calculations, and determine the correct path.
To complicate the task, markers were drawn in two different colors. Where the points are shown in yellow, it was necessary to perform a subtraction operation, and where the blue pattern was used, addition. The bee sees the source code at the entrance to the receiving chamber, adds or subtracts one from the number of points, and then looks for which of the two doors has the same number of points drawn - this is the correct exit. It sounds simple, but the bee has no way to go back and double-check its conclusions, it has to rely on memory, including the experience of passing the previous parts of the maze.
In total, there were 100 cells in the maze, and after the 14th experimental bee had successfully overcome it, the researchers concluded that the experiment was a success. It is not certain that bees think as described in the terms of the task, but they definitely have the skills and talents to cope with this task. Researchers believe that this is part of an evolutionary process that helps bees navigate the design of their hives and repair them in a timely manner based on indirect data about the state of the object.