Eddy's Good News: Bumblebees and humans share traits and the European Tree of the Year

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27 Mar 2024, 14:30

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Wednesday 27th March 2024

Credit: Bees teaching each other stuff in a puzzle box- Queen Mary University of London

Bumblebees can teach others new behaviours too complex for them to learn alone, reports a paper published in Nature that essentially posits humans and bees share knowledge in exactly the same way.

In the study, a bee taught to solve a puzzle for a sugary reward was able to train other bees to complete the task, providing evidence that bees can socially learn some behaviours at a level of complexity previously thought to be unique to humans and our ancestors.

We now realise how arrogant that was and we’ve seen exactly the same behaviour in animals from chimps to magpies!

However, this behaviour has not yet been demonstrated in an invertebrate species, generally considered at the bottom of the intelligent life tree. 

Bumblebees, however, are extremely social insects that have proven themselves capable of acquiring non-natural behaviours, such as string-pulling and ball-rolling, via social learning in order to gain rewards. The research team  designed a two-step puzzle box in which the bees first must move an obstacle to allow a rotating lid to be opened, revealing a sucrose reward, but not a single one succeeded independently through trial and error, they conferred and collaborated and learned from each other. 

Just like us. And magpies!

Via: goodnewsnetwork.org

Credit: Marcin Kopij

In this year’s edition of the European Tree of the Year contest, the leafy crown was bestowed upon stunning copper beech in the botanical gardens of the University of Wroclaw.

Thought to be 2,000 years old, the aptly named ‘The Heart Of The Garden’ is the third Polish tree in a row to win, following two magnificent oaks. 

“Its majestic appearance impresses us with its unusually shaped and thick trunk, widely spread branches, and purple-coloured leaves that shine beautifully in the sun,” the contest organisers wrote.

Known in the UK as a “copper beech” all beech trees seem to have the genetic potential to be purple, though exactly what causes it to happen is unknown. The naturally occurring mutation appears spontaneously, without human interference, and is most commonly seen in either saplings or old trees.

The Heart of the Garden is certainly old, and what a wonderful thing that an arboretum was planned around it, that it’s 2,000 years old, and has the copper beech mutation.

Spreading over 120 feet, or 40 metres in width today, the city had to keep on maintaining an incredible supporting structure for the last 100 years.

Via: goodnewsnetwork.org