FIRST AIRED: February 11, 2018

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>> The humble bumblebee may have a brain the size of a pinhead, but it's no fool when it comes to route planning. British researchers have shown that bumblebees hone their routes from flower to flower to save both time and energy.>> The bee, without the aid of anything like a map, has to put together its memories of where it found food in such a way that it can fly between plants.
So what we want to do is understand how they manage to meet that challenge.>> The researchers tagged the bees, trained them to feed on artificial flowers, and used radar to track their movements. They found that the bees perfected both the order in which they visited the feeding platforms and the routes between them.
It's a complex calculation that mathematicians call the traveling salesman problem, planning a route between base and several other destinations.>> It's not enough to simply look at the order in which they visit the feeders. To really understand how they solve this problem, you have to look at the movements they make.
And so what we found is that, in parallel, they're going through this process of improving both the order they visit the feeders, but even more importantly, the ways in which they get between feeders.>> The teams say understanding how bees solve complex problems may help the development of artificial intelligence.