Scientists teach bees to pull strings for treats

Scientists at Queen Mary University of London taught this bumblebee how to pull a string to get the food reward on the blue disc under a piece of glass.

They were able to train 23 out of a group of 40 bees. Another group of bees was then allowed to observe the trained bees pulling the strings.

Amazingly, 60 percent of them successfully learnt the skill from watching.

The trained bees were then put in colonies and the scientists found the technique spread successfully to a majority of the colony's worker bees.

The study suggests the ability to learn and pass on knowledge and skills may not be exclusive to humans, but may also be within most animals.

Similar experiments are often used to test the intelligence of apes and birds. This is the first to show some insects have the ability.

The research was published in the journal PLOS Biology.