Deep, man: Bees understand the concept of "zero"

Let's talk mathematics, I know you're dying to. 

The concept of "zero", or an "empty set," is something long thought to be understood only by humans.

(Example of the concept: You have zero reasons to not be listening to us playing the Greatest Hits as much as you can.)

Recently, scientists have been discovering that some other animals "get it" with the concept of zero. Monkeys and parrots are two examples.

But apparently bees can also do some mathematical calculations and understand what "zero" means, according to a recent study. That's good for them - it's good to know when you have zero honey or pollen - but it's also promising for us. Australian researcher Adrian Dyer of RMIT University in Melbourne put it this way: “Because bees with a miniature brain can acquire the ability to understand the concept of zero as part of a number sequence, it gives us important insights into how larger brains process numbers; and how we may have developed the use of zero for technology.”

So we can learn from this, too.

My question is, how the heck can they figure out that bees can comprehend zero? And how did they train them without getting stung?

 
Eric Paulsen

Eric Paulsen

I wanted to be in radio since I was four - and four decades later I still haven't grown out of it... Read more

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