View Poll Results: Do bees have memory?

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  • yes

    30 93.75%
  • no

    2 6.25%
Results 1 to 17 of 17
  1. #1
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    Mar 2011
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    Default Do bees have memory?

    We can discuss how long it last if you think they have memory.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Gloucester, Virginia
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    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    Individual workers I would say a day or two.

    The collective....years.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    The simple answer is yes, even for the "lower organisms". How much would be considered instinct rather than "memory" as we understand it, I don't know. I don't think any organism would last very long, either as an individual or as a species if it didn't have some form of memory. A human with advanced Alzheimer's or dementia wouldn't live very long without some assistance.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2004
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    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    Certainly any bee that manages to find her way back to the hive has memory.
    I've read research about tests of bee memory, and as I remember, a bee's memory of a particular floral source lasted about 3 days.

  5. #5
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    Apr 2009
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    Drain, OR
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    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    Memory is involved when bees orient and return to the hive after foraging.
    A backyard hobbyist, keeping hives since '09. ~ http://www.sweetthangchocolates.com
    Zone 8a/8b

  6. #6
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    Oct 2011
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    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    I imagine the bee brain is something like a biological flash drive with instinct being firmware. But hey I am an IT guy...so....you know that's me.

    If it is indeed three days then it's a flash drive with volatile memory!

    A whole hive I think is much smarter than an individual bee.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Santa Rosa County, Florida
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    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    Wasn't there a recent study on facial recognition by bees?I think I saw that here on Bs.If they recognize faces then they have some degree of memory.

  8. #8
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    Jul 2008
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    Belfield, North Dakota, USA
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    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beeophyte View Post
    Individual workers I would say a day or two.

    The collective....years.
    Individual memory can't last more than a maximum of 40 days or so for worker bees (at least during summer). If the queen is able to create memories, are they of any value to the workers in the colony?

    In what form is the hive's 'collective' memory stored and maintained? And how is it passed on to new individuals? The 'bee dance' relays information, certainly. But this is a short term information system (as nectar sources are passing and ephemeral). What are the mechanisms in the collective that permit long term memory formation?

    In humans, the hippocampus is primarily responsible for converting short term memories to long term memories. Bees do not have a hippocampus. Is anyone aware of any other behaviors such as the 'bee dance' that might be candidates for this process?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    Collective memory to me is kind of like collective consciousness. I am no scientist but even humans have collective memory.

    For example most humans have a natural fear of certain things, heights, snakes, etc. For some it's learned but for many it's ingrained.

    I mean one could argue that DNA is actually a form of cellular memory.

    Instinct is a type of collective memory and bees definitely possess that.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    Two votes for no?? A bee can find a nectar source fly back to the hive and communicate its exact location to others in the hive who then remember the location long enough to fly there and forage. They have to, at the very least, be able to remember long enough to do that.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    Collective memory? That is something I can't wrap my brain around.

    Some are saying 3 days ... so if a bee learned of a nectar source location they would have to learn it again to find it? Or is it that if they continue to go to it they will remember for as long as it exist?

    I moved one of my splits and dumped the bees because it was full of drones and I suspect drone larvae. How many times will I have to move this box and dump the bees before they will forget about it?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  12. #12
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    Jan 2009
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    Bristol,MA,USA
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    689

    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    Their memory of a particular hive location may last up to two weeks. The race of bee used may matter. When pollinating hives were returned to their original apiaries within two weeks, if the hives were not positioned where they originally came from, prior to their pollination stint, the field bees would fly to the prior original position. This behavior caused havoc at times with the owners of some apiary sites. From several such experiences, it was found necessary to always deposit returning hives at a different apiary site from which they had been taken. I had up to 16 apiary sites and 350 pollinating hives when this behavior was observed. OMTCW

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    Pinellass County, Florida
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    1,064

    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cedar Hill View Post
    Their memory of a particular hive location may last up to two weeks. The race of bee used may matter. When pollinating hives were returned to their original apiaries within two weeks, if the hives were not positioned where they originally came from, prior to their pollination stint, the field bees would fly to the prior original position. This behavior caused havoc at times with the owners of some apiary sites. From several such experiences, it was found necessary to always deposit returning hives at a different apiary site from which they had been taken. I had up to 16 apiary sites and 350 pollinating hives when this behavior was observed. OMTCW
    Do you have a link to this
    I would like to use it for discussion
    In an upcoming meeting

    Thanks

  14. #14
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    Belfield, North Dakota, USA
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    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    Quote Originally Posted by NasalSponge View Post
    Two votes for no?? A bee can find a nectar source fly back to the hive and communicate its exact location to others in the hive who then remember the location long enough to fly there and forage. They have to, at the very least, be able to remember long enough to do that.
    I will explain my 'no' vote - I certainly understand that bees are capable of relaying information and are able to return to nectar sources. I don't consider this memory per se though - it is more akin to 'recall'. Recall is more short term and fleeting. 'Memory' describes a process whereby specific neural pathways are dedicated to the storage of information. Bees simply don't have this type of 'brain'.

    For instance, you create 'memories' of your child's 1st birthday party. You are able to access these memories over time - for long periods of time, by initiating a nervous impulse that travels a signal pathway in your brain that is dedicated to this memory (and I am not certain that science yet completely understands this process). By contrast, you lay your keys down on a table - you spend the day walking past the table and the image passes through your field of vision several times. You aren't so much creating a memory, but instead a 'picture' of where your keys are. Your ability to form this picture when you want your keys is 'recall'. Once accessed though, this type of information is typically dumped.

    I suspect that bees are exceptionally good at recall. This is an incredible thing for an insect (they don't really have brains - they have collections of nerve cells called 'ganglia' located near body parts that need the most neural integration: above and below the esophagus for the moving of mouth parts, for instance).

    I liked beophytes computer firmware and software analogy. I would suggest though that the bee on board 'hard drive' essentially reformats frequently.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    Quote Originally Posted by NDnewbeek View Post
    Once accessed though, this type of information is typically dumped.
    Is that rom vs. ram? Yes, as advanced as the human brain is it constantly dumps it's memory. If it didn't it would be overloaded before in got to age 2. Alzheimer short circuits the short term memory even to a greater extreme but it takes a long time to affect the long term memory. To me a bee has memory and this thread has discussed a bee's memory much more than I expected. Thank you for explaining your no vote although the votes are secrete for everybody else.

    BTW the show about a cop that remembers everything .... Hollywood. Can't happen with a human brain.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  16. #16
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    May 2011
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    Oswego, NY
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    52

    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    Yes, they have a great memory IMOHO. If they can fly the distances they are able to and decipher their keeper from other humans to me they are the smartest insects in the world.

  17. #17
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    Jul 2008
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    Default Re: Do bees have memory?

    NDnewbeek, thanks for the explanition. Something to think about.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

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