Researchers have been studying a theoretical model of honeybees, viewing the colony as a single superorganism, and predicting how they react to external stimuli.

They conclude that how bees interact and make decisions is comparable to how neurons within a human brain interact with each other.

“This study is exciting because it suggests that honeybee colonies adhere to the same laws as the brain when making collective decisions,” says Dr Andreagiovanni Reina, the lead author of the paper and a researcher at the University of Sheffield.

“The study also supports the view of bee colonies as being similar to complete organisms or better still, superorganisms, composed of a large number of fully developed and autonomous individuals that interact with each other to bring forth a collective response.”

The comparison between the honeybee colonies and human brains comes from psychophysical laws.

Previous research shows that the brains of humans and other animals obey these rules, although single brain neurons do not always obey them.

In the study, the scientists found that while single bees may not obey the psychophysical law, the bee colony does.

This research will allow for further understanding of the human brain and these laws by observing bee colonies, rather than attempting to watch brain neurons.

Read the full paper in Scientific Reports.

Main image: Honeybee colonies were studied by researchers and compared to neurons in human brains. © Kerstin Klaassen/Getty


Megan ShersbyNaturalist, writer and content creator