Even pollinators have emotions a new study has showed by feeding bees sugar after which the bees learned to fly faster to a container with a sugary drink inside than to one with just water.
The study showed that bees also have emotions – at least the happy emotion – and this particular emotion when induced through sugary drinks helps them not only learn to fly faster to the contained filled with the source of happiness, it also enables them to recover faster from a scary situation – like being grabbed by a spider or any other predator.
Researchers say that through their findings they can predict that after consumption of a sugary drink, bees’ aversive reaction to the ‘predator’ would be attenuated and that they would get back to foraging faster than the bees that were not given the sugary treat.
The study isn’t a definitive answer to the question of whether bees have emotions and what kind of emotions if any, but it does help us link to the emotions of human beings – the happy emotion at least – wherein happy people are more likely to make optimistic judgments about ambiguous situations. Sweet food is known to have a positive effect on mood of human adults and is even known to stop the crying and grimacing of newborns in response to aversive stimuli.
In the abstract of the paper published in journal Science, researchers revealed that the behavioral changes that were observed in the bees were abolished with topical application of the dopamine antagonist fluphenazine. They also note that further experiments established that pretest sucrose does not simply cause bees to become more exploratory.
Researchers are optimistic that their findings pave a new path for understanding the fundamental neural elements of emotions and may alter the view of how emotion states affect decision-making in animals.