Quantitative Eco/Evo/Etho Discussions

The Mind of a Bee

Lars Chittka, Queen Mary College of the University of London

Thursday, Oct 5, 2023
10:00 am | Remote

Zoom registration:


Most of us are aware of the hive mind—the power of bees as an amazing collective. But do we know how uniquely intelligent bees are as individuals?  Lars Chittka draws from decades of research, including his own pioneering work, to argue that bees have remarkable cognitive abilities. He shows that they are profoundly smart, have distinct personalities, can recognize flowers and human faces, exhibit basic emotions, count, use simple tools, solve problems, and learn by observing others. They may even possess consciousness. Chittka illustrates how bee brains are unparalleled in the animal kingdom in terms of how much sophisticated material is packed into their tiny nervous systems. He looks at their innate behaviors and the ways their evolution as foragers may have contributed to their keen spatial memory. Chittka also examines the psychological differences between bees and the ethical dilemmas that arise in conservation and laboratory settings because bees might feel and think.  

Speaker Bio

Lars Chittka is the author of the book The Mind of a Bee and Professor of Sensory and Behavioural Ecology at Queen Mary College of the University of London.  He is also the founder of the Research Centre for Psychology at Queen Mary.  He is known for his work on the evolution of sensory systems and cognition using insect-flower interactions as a model system.  Chittka has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of animal cognition and its impact on evolutionary fitness studying bumblebees and honeybees.


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