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Beekeeper’s Notes: Bees Have Feelings Too

Published on: 1 Aug, 2022
Updated on: 25 Jul, 2022

Hugh Coakley keeps bees in Worplesdon

“Bees can count, recognise images of human faces and learn simple tool use and abstract concepts,” says Lars Chittka, professor of sensory and behavioural ecology at Queen Mary University of London, in his new book, The Mind of a Bee.

Bee resting on a stalk of grass. Or is she meditating? Photo by M. Coakley.

And have moods. There is what he calls “suggestive evidence” of having emotion-like states where they change their behaviour over days in reaction to good or bad experiences.

His work with bees over 30 years has also shown some are cleverer than others. “You find the odd ‘genius bee’ that does something better than all the other individuals of a colony.”

And amazingly, once the ‘genius bee’ learns a new skill, the “skill spreads swiftly to all the bees”.

It will make me think that it might be me as the problem when we have a colony that hard to work with, not an inherent trait of the bees.

The season continues with a great honey crop expected.

We are taking the boxes full of honey off our hives more frequently, extracting the golden bounty and then putting the empty boxes back straight away as we are running out of boxes.

The nectar flow seems to have slowed for us now, Saturday, July 23, even though other beekeepers are telling me their bees are still bringing it in.

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Responses to Beekeeper’s Notes: Bees Have Feelings Too

  1. Sally Louise Astles Reply

    August 1, 2022 at 5:26 pm

    I would like to thank Hugh Coakley for this information. Bees are fabulous and now we know just how brilliant they are.

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