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The Mind of a Bee

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Lars Chittka is professor of sensory and behavioural ecology at Queen Mary University, London. Related Categories An incredibly rich and complex examination of the interior life of bees, well-suited to those with a deep and abiding interest in scientific experimentation and its subsequent nomenclatures. I am not one of them. While the subject is utterly fascinating, I found my mind wandering all too often as I struggled to maintain interest in its presentation. That said, the importance of understanding the subjectively conscious life of bees is not lost on me. I simply have little interest in the extreme amount of detail that Chittka presents. The book does not feel extraordinarily accessible to the scientific layman, and I believe it suffers as a result.

The Mind of a Bee by Lars Chittka | Goodreads The Mind of a Bee by Lars Chittka | Goodreads

Some stray findings: Bees can recognise a human face (I knew that). Bees are warm blooded and seek out warm nectar when needed to warm up – like having a cup of hot tea when feeling cold (didn’t know that). Blue pollen is uncommon and I’ve not noticed this colour before in the apiary. The photo doesn’t do its brilliant periwinkle-blue justice. Without the addition of saliva, and being tamped down in the cell, pollen looks different in a bee’s corbiculae.In the counting experiment, the bees were trained to fly past three identical landmarks to a food source. “After they had reliably flown there, we either increased the number of landmarks over the same distance or decreased it.” When landmarks were spaced closer together, the bees tended to land earlier than before and vice versa when the landmarks were placed further apart. “So they were using the number of landmarks to say: ah ha, I’ve flown far enough, this is a good place to land.” I have an aquaintance here in S. London who is a gardener and he is snowed under with people who want wild flower meadows in place of their lawns…

The Mind of a Bee Reviewed. - The Beelistener The Mind of a Bee Reviewed. - The Beelistener

Written with moments of levity and soaked in curiosity, The Mind of a Bee is a delight."—Eliza Middleton, The Conversation Second thing - scientists that study living creatures without at least a little appreciation and delight in the subject come across as SUCH sociopathic assholes. Looking at YOU, Jean-Henri Fabre. Let’s see YOU see in ultraviolet, you pompous jerk. Bet your vomit tastes horrible on pancakes, you insensitive twat. Can YOU fly? Honeycomb is a marvel of engineering, and if you interfere with the preferred method of placing the hexes, bees adapt in clever and beautiful ways. Bees in zero gravity on the space station made their usual hexes but didn’t angle the boxes, as they do on earth, because gravity wouldn’t make the honey leak out.

A radical new book argues that a bee may have a mind of its own, awareness of the world, basic emotions and intelligence. It is a bold and brave claim – but is it true? On swarming Chittka makes a reference to the quite “eccentric” beekeeper Maurice Maeterlinc (awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911). Among his books is The Life of the Bee (1901), and I found a free version in the Internet Archive, as an ePub-book – this book is lovely but has to be reviewed another time! Chittka has been studying bees for 30 years and is considered one of the world’s leading experts on bee sensory systems and cognition.

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