Bee Brains Aren't Pea Brains | The Institute for Creation Research
Bee Brains Aren't Pea Brains
In 2005, biologists were stunned to discover that humans might not all look the same to honeybees. A study has found that bees can learn to recognize human faces in photos, and remember them for at least two days.1

Twelve years later, Science magazine published an article describing the “unprecedented cognitive flexibility” of bees using a ball to get a reward.2 Biologist Loukola said,

I think the most important result in our case was that bumblebees can not just copy others but they can improve upon what they are learning…This is of course amazing for small-brained insects—even for us, it’s difficult to improve on something when we are copying others.3

It seems these tiny invertebrates—small-brained insects, mind you—have been designed with the extraordinary ability to reason and learn. In 2019, it was discovered that bees can link symbols to numbers. “We know bees get the concept of zero and can do basic math. Now researchers have discovered they may also be capable of connecting symbols to numbers.”4

Authors of an amazing bee article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B give a more detailed overview of this same research. “Here we show that honeybees are able to learn to match a sign to a numerosity, or a numerosity to a sign, and subsequently transfer this knowledge to novel numerosity stimuli changed in colour properties, shape and configuration.”5

A neuron is a nerve cell through which electrochemical impulses are transmitted. A whale’s brain has over 200 billion neurons, human brains have an estimated 86 billion neurons, and a honeybee’s (Apis mellifera) brain contains fewer than one million neurons. However, “Despite their tiny brains bees are capable of extraordinary feats of behavior,” said Dr. Nigel Raine, from Royal Holloway’s school of biological sciences at the University of London.6

But researchers are finding that it’s not necessarily the mass or sheer number of neurons in an animal that accounts for the creature’s cognition—it seems rather to lie in the neural circuits, specifically the circuits’ interconnectivity and modularity.7 It appears the neural circuits must be arranged and connected in a very specific manner in order to function as optimally as they do.

Yes, bees are designed with a brain the size of a grass seed with less than one million neurons, and yet they can recognize human faces, count, improve upon what they are learning, do basic math, link symbols to numbers, and navigate using spatial memory with a “rich, map-like organization.”8

As an evolutionist said, “These are, high, high, highly intelligent creatures,”3 Agreed. One must ask: Are bees the result of time and chance or plan, purpose, and creation?

References
1. Lucentini, J. Bees can recognize human faces, study finds. Physorg and World Science. Posted on phys.org December 11, 2005, accessed June 18, 2019.
2. Loukola, O. et al. 2017. Bumblebees show cognitive flexibility by improving on an observed complex behavior. Science. V. 355: 833-36.
3. Hugo, K. Intelligence test shows bees can learn to solve tasks from other bees. PBS. Posted on pbs.org February 23, 2017, accessed June 19, 2019.
4. Sciencedaily.com, June 5, 2019. Bees can link symbols to numbers, study finds. Sciencedaily. Posted on sciencedaily.com June 5, 2019, accessed June 19, 2019.
5. Howard, S. et al. 2019. Symbolic representation of numerosity by honeybees [Apis mellifera]: matching characters to small quantities. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 286, 1904.
6. Bees’ tiny brains beat computers, study finds. The Guardian. Posted on theguardian.com October 24, 2010 accessed June 18, 2019.
7. Chittka, L. and J. Niven. 2009. Are Bigger Brains Better? Current Biology. 19 (21): R995-R1008
8. Menzel, et al. 2005. Honey bees navigate according to a map-like spatial memory. PNAS. 102 (8): 3040–3045.

*Mr. Sherwin is Research Associate is at ICR. He has a master’s in zoology from the University of Northern Colorado.
The Latest
NEWS
Venus May Be Geologically Active
Using computer simulations, a team of researchers has concluded the planet Venus could still be geologically active.1,2 The scientists used...

NEWS
Nose-Horned Lizard: Extinct, or Hiding for 129 Years?
Did Modigliani’s striking lizard—a variety of Agamidae “dragon lizard”—go extinct, or has it just been hiding in Indonesia...

NEWS
Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Next Week
Both amateur and professional stargazers have an opportunity to see a little more of God’s glory revealed in the heavens1 next week. The...

NEWS
Great American Outdoors Act, Signed into Law by President
In a bipartisan legislative achievement to promote better stewardship of American public lands, U.S. Senators and Representatives finalized their bill...

NEWS
Grandmothers, Eat Fish to Protect Your Brains!
This month the American Academy of Neurology published a medical science study showing that senior women can fight air pollution hazards, including brain...

NEWS
Embarrassment Continues over Evolutionary Blunder about “Junk...
Recent research from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) continues to highlight how evolutionary theory influenced...

NEWS
God’s Plan Is Best: Salmon Need Saltwater Acclimation
Once again, results are better when aquaculture imitates the natural life cycle of Atlantic salmon.1,2 In other words, the closer fish farmers...

NEWS
Inside August 2020 Acts & Facts
Have you heard about ICR’s new President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza? What can we learn from an old prayer? Is creation evidence...

NEWS
After 30 Years, Red Kites Soar in British Skies
Good news is always welcome. So, it’s good to learn of another conservation comeback. This time it’s the red kite happily soaring in Great...

CREATION PODCAST
Meet Dr. G
Hear the history and heart of ICR’s newly appointed President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza. He has served as ICR’s National...