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Happy are the Bees With Dopamine Boosting Treats

Oct 04, 2016 03:59 AM EDT
Bee with a sunflower
Bees are also capable of having positive emotions according to this recent study.
(Photo : Alexas_Fotos/Public Domain/Pixabay)

A new study published in Science shows that it is possible for bees to be optimistic, especially after being able to experience or indulge in sugar-concentrated water. The researchers want to find out if insects, just like people, are also capable of having positive emotions such as happiness.

To find out if it's possible for bees to have such happy emotions, the researchers trained 24 bees in a close chamber. Inside, there is a wall that has two colored doors. Behind the blue door lies a container with water containing 30 percent sugar. Meanwhile, behind the green door lies plain water. After the training, half of the bees were given 60 percent of sugar treat while the other half didn't get any, just plain water.

Then, the bees underwent an ambiguous test. Since bees recognized colors blue and green, the ambiguous blue-green color was meant to confuse them. In the end of the test, the sugar bees were more likely to fly to the ambiguous colored door than the sugar-free bees. What is even more fascinating is that sugar bees are still "optimistic" and can easily recover from trauma. Such as when sugar bees got "trapped" in an opening and still continues to go back in the hole despite the stimulated trauma.

It was found that it is not because of the "sugar" the bees took, but it has something to do with their good feeling towards the rewards. The bees that received sweet treats exhibited faster flying, about four times, compared to those who received just plain water. Just like humans, we tend to do things and make decisions quickly whenever we feel happy or positive -- an example of this is when we are gambling. Our behaviour can be affected whenever we feel happy and we usually act on it, and the test on bees somehow proves that even insects are capable of this behavior.

"We're understanding that insects aren't these behaviorally rigid machines," Perry says. "They're much more complex than we have often thought." After the experiment, researchers gave dopamine inhibitor to the bees to finally blocks their brain reward system, according to the study reported at Science Mag

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