Humans and many other animals are also categorized on the basis of being right handed or left handed. But a latest research has discovered something interesting. A group of scientists in Australia has found out that individual bees can also be left or right handed like humans. The study revealed that bees have a preference of flying to the left or the right when faced with an obstacle in their path.
That means the flight of bees that we see are not random. The right-handed bees prefer to fly to the right side if they face any obstacle in their path and the left-handed bees prefer the left side flight. Unlike humans, though, bees don’t seem to favor one or the other across the wider population. But any individual bee could either be strongly left or right biased in equal proportion, and some have no preference at all.
One of the study’s author, Mandyam Srinivasan told the University of Queensland that they believe that these individual biases help to improve the flight efficiency of a swarm of bees through densely cluttered environments. For the study, the researchers tracked 102 foraging bees and tried to analyze their flight decisions and patterns. They put different colors on each bee to distinguish them from one another. Then they allowed the bees to fly through a 47-inch long tunnel with a feeder fitted at the end. In the middle of the tunnel, they kept an obstacle that had two different adjustable openings.
First, the researchers made one of the openings twice as large as the other and found out that the bees chose the larger opening 80 percent of the time. The researchers made the size of the openings equal. After allowing 10 flights, they found out that 55 percent of the bees showed zero preference between the openings. But the remaining 45 percent were split – half of them repeatedly preferred the left and the other half the right. After that, the openings were adjusted to random uneven settings and the biased bees’ flight were timed.
Scientists found out that the bees who preferred smaller openings took a longer time to finalize whether to go through the larger opening or not. But bees whose favored side had the larger opening took very less time to decide.
So, it can be inferred that along with bees preferring left side or right side, they were also able to distinguish between the larger openings and the smaller openings and preferred the larger openings most of the time. Srinivasan then concluded that flying insects constantly face the challenge of choosing efficient, safe and collision-free routes while navigating through dense foliage and this latest finding could potentially be used for steering a fleet of drone aircraft.