Bumblebees Like To Play With Toys, Study Says

They work hard and have fun, too 🐝

Bees are some of the hardest workers in the animal kingdom. But did you know that bees, when they finally do take a break, may actually enjoy playing games with each other?

In a recent study published in Animal Behaviour, researchers discovered that bees like to roll balls around over and over for no apparent reason, and, as a result, are suggesting that like humans, bees may see interaction with inanimate objects as a type of play.

For the study, researchers set up a container that allowed bees to travel from their nest to a common feeding area. But while en route, the bees could also pass through a separate section that included a few wooden balls — kind of like a bee playroom.

Well, as it turns out, bees might be pretty good soccer players.

For over two weeks, scientists watched as the bees (particularly the younger bees in the group) gathered in the playroom area to roll balls around over and over, even though there was no incentive or real reason for them to be doing so.

"This research provides a strong indication that insect minds are far more sophisticated than we might imagine," Lars Chittka, a professor of sensory and behavioral ecology at Queen Mary University of London, said in a statement to the university.

Additionally, when bees “play,” it may also mean that they can experience feelings, too.

“It goes to show, once more, that despite their little size and tiny brains, they are more than small robotic beings,” Samadi Galpayage, a Ph.D. student in the study, said in a statement to the university. “They may actually experience some kind of positive emotional states, even if rudimentary, like other larger fluffy, or not so fluffy, animals do. This sort of finding has implications to our understanding of sentience and welfare of insects and will, hopefully, encourage us to respect and protect life on Earth ever more.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.