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How Bees Find Their Way Home

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How can a bee fly straight home in the middle of the night after a complicated route through thick vegetation in search of food? For the first time, researchers have been able to show what happens in the brain of the bee.

How can a bee fly straight home in the middle of the night after a complicated route through thick vegetation in search of food? For the first time, researchers have been able to show what happens in the brain of the bee.

Bees and many other animals use what is known as optical flow to determine how fast they are going and how far they have moved through their environment. When ignoring all other senses, this means that they experience their surroundings as moving towards them while they themselves appear to be standing still.

Until now, scientists have not known what actually happens in the brain of a bee when it finds its way back to the hive after flying around looking for food.

The study, involving nocturnal rain forest bees, identifies which neurons in the brain allow the bee to measure speed and distance covered. It also identifies the neurons that  use polarised light to determine the bee’s compass direction.

Read more at Lund University

Photo credit: Arcaion via Pixabay