Humans are curious about the world. It's our curiosity that has led to life-saving inventions and Nobel Prize-winning discoveries about the world around us. But curiosity is not limited just to Homo sapiens — it also exists in the insects we know and love. When you think of honey bees, you probably think of giant of bees, all working in to raise offspring, bring back pollen and nectar, and serve their queen. But in order to survive, honey bees must be curious.
Foraging honey bees must act like tiny , searching for new food sources as new flowering plants emerge. Bees, just like humans, can be extremely curious about the world around them. Some bees would rather stick to the flowers they already know. A from researchers at Marquette University found that some bees are genetically predisposed to being more curious explorers, seeking out new food sources even when familiar food sources are present.
To understand how bee behavior differed between individual honey bees, the researchers separated genetically "curious" and "focused" bees and gave them access to two food sources: a familiar location, and a location with changing smells and . The bees were separated based on the behavior of their parents — if their parent was very adventurous and curious about the world around them, they were more likely to be curious, too. If the bee parents preferred to only visit the same places, eat the same foods, and keep to what they know, the offspring of those bees were likely to have the same preferences.
The researchers found that the bees that were genetically predisposed to being curious were more likely to visit the location with changing characteristics, and to perform more intense to alert their fellow honey bees to these new foraging opportunities. The curiosity stemmed from the bees' genetic background, and is an important trait to a successful colony, especially in the face of and flowering landscapes.