comScore Study Shows Honeybees Act Impulsively When Hungry | The Mary Sue
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Study Shows Honeybees (Beads?) Lose Self-Control, Act Impulsively When Hungry

One might even say they go buzzerk.


The next time you feel yourself on the verge of hanger (hungry anger, and don’t pretend you haven’t been there), take heart: at least humans aren’t the only creatures that get a little irrational when they need a snack. explains that small animals with high metabolic rates are known to act more impulsively when starving than larger animals, although for a highly social creature like bees self-control is also necessary to maintain harmony in the hive. To better understand these two seemingly paradoxical honeybee attributes, a study published yesterday in the Royal Society Biology Letters examined the relationship between hunger and a preference for short-term rewards in bees isolated from their social environment.

After training the bees to differentiate between the scents of a small and large portion of sugar solution, the researchers tested their subjects’ preferences following 6, 18, and 24 hours of starvation, noting that when the large reward was associated with a delay, the bees’ preferences for it decreased the hungrier they became. After testing chemicals in the bees’ brains, the researchers also found a notable increase in dopamine levels between the brains of bees that had been starved for 24 hours compared to those who had been starved for 18.

The study explains,

The reason a bee can be expected to display self-control under normal circumstances is not necessarily because it is for the ‘good of the society’, but because it is generally satiated in those settings and is not at risk of starvation despite its high metabolic rate.

Man, these must be some hungry bees:


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