All Work – and Play

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Bumblebees work hard. They like to play hard, too, the Guardian reported.

A new study found that the fuzzy insects like to play with balls for enjoyment, the way humans and dogs do.

In a series of experiments, a research team noticed that bumblebees would repeatedly roll balls when given the opportunity, despite not having any survival incentive to do so.

In the experiments, 45 bees were given the option of either walking through an unobstructed path to get a treat or going into areas with wooden balls.

Over the course of the experiment, individual bees rolled balls between one and 117 times, which the team suggested could be because the industrious insects found it rewarding.

The findings also showed that younger bees were more playful and that males played longer than their female counterparts.

In another test, another 42 bees had to pick between two colored chambers, one with wooden balls. Once the balls were removed, the bugs preferred the chamber that previously had their playthings.

The team explained that the study contributes to a growing body of evidence that bees’ minds are more complex than previously imagined.

“It is certainly mind-blowing, at times amusing, to watch bumblebees show something like play,” noted co-author Samadi Galpayage. “It goes to show, once more, that despite their little size and tiny brains, they are more than small robotic beings.”

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