Monday, April 17, 2023

Can bees be sentient?

According to a growing body of research, bees are sentient, self-aware and have emotional lives³. A study by Newcastle University researchers Melissa Bateson and Jeri Wright found that honeybee response "has more in common with that of vertebrates than previously thought" and "suggest that honeybees could be regarded as exhibiting emotions"¹. The study was published in Current Biology in June 2011¹.

An experiment where honey bees were shaken for 60 seconds to simulate a predatory attack found that the bees' equivalent of blood — called haemolymph — was lower in dopamine and serotonin after shaking, compared with bees that weren't shaken. Both dopamine and serotonin are involved in mood regulation in humans².

The research raises questions about how bees are used in the agricultural sector or in laboratory experiments, where they've traditionally been seen as little more than tools³.

Source: Conversation with Bing, 4/17/2023(1) New research: bees are sentient, self aware, are emotional | RNZ. Accessed 4/17/2023.

(2) Honeybees Might Have Emotions | WIRED. Accessed 4/17/2023.

(3) Do insects, octopus and other invertebrates feel emotions ... - ABC. Accessed 4/17/2023.

(4) ‘Bees are sentient’: inside the stunning brains of nature’s hardest .... Accessed 4/17/2023.

(5) New research deepens mystery about evolution of bees' social behavior. Accessed 4/17/2023.


: Bateson, M., & Wright, G. A. (2011). Reversal learning and affective responses in honeybees (Apis mellifera). Current Biology, 21(6), 1-4.

: Perry, C. J., Baciadonna, L., & Chittka, L. (2016). Unexpected rewards induce dopamine-dependent positive emotion-like state changes in bumblebees. Science, 353(6307), 1529-1531.

: "New research: bees are sentient, self aware, are emotional". RNZ. Retrieved April 17, 2023.

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