A new study published in Science has revealed that honey bees can grasp the concept of zero, an ability previously believed to be reserved for more evolved species. The paper, entitled “Numerical ordering of zero in honey bees”, is a collaboration of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, the University of Toulouse in France and Monash University in Clayton, Australia.
“We’ve long believed only humans had the intelligence to get the concept (of zero), but recent research has shown monkeys and birds have the brains for it as well. What we haven’t known – until now – is whether insects can also understand zero,” said RMIT University’s Associate Professor Adrian Dyer.
Dyer and his colleagues designed a series of targeted experiments to test honey bees’ potential to grasp the concept of the number zero. In the first experiment, the bees were evaluated on their ability to understand the concepts of less than and greater than.