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Bees can be lefties too

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A few months ago, it was revealed that bees understood the concept of zero and now it appears they share another trait with humans: a preference for handedness.

No, bees do not have hands like us but they do have a “distinct bias” in their flying direction.

According to Professor Mandyam Srinivasan, of The University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute, honeybees “displayed handedness that varied from individual to individual”.

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He said: “Unlike humans, who are mostly right-handed, some bees display a strong left bias, others a strong right bias, and yet others a weak or zero bias.”

While studying the flying decisions made by honeybees, the researchers found that when given a choice of passing through two gaps – one wide and one narrow – the bees preferred the wider opening.

However, when the gaps were of equal width, 45% of them showed a direction bias.

Then measuring the flight times of the biased bees, the researchers noted that when passing through openings of different widths, a bee took longer to make a decision if its “intrinsic bias” was toward the side with the narrower opening.

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Prof Srinivasan added: “We believe these individual biases help to improve the flight efficiency of a swarm of bees through densely cluttered environments.

“Flying insects constantly face the challenge of choosing efficient, safe and collision-free routes while navigating through dense foliage.”

The research is published in the journal PLOS One.

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