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Cognition. 1990 Nov;37(1-2):83-103.

Honey bee cognition.

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Department of Biology, Princeton University, NJ 08544.


The visual memory of honey bees is stored pictorially. Bees will accept a mirror-image reversal of a familiar pattern in the absence of the original, but prefer the original over the reversal; the matching system of bees, therefore, does not incorporate a mirror-image ambiguity. Bees will not accept a rotation of a familiar vertical pattern, but readily recognize any rotation of a horizontal pattern; the context-specific ability to make a mental transformation seems justified by natural contingencies. Bees are able to construct and use cognitive maps of their home area, though it is possible to create conditions under which they lack useful cues. Other experiments suggest that recruits, having attended a dance in the hive specifying the distance and direction of a food source, can evaluate the "plausibility" of the location without leaving the hive; this suggests a kind of imagination.

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