, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 259-263

Self-control in honeybees

Abstract

Self-control means choosing a large delayed reward over a small immediate reward; impulsiveness is its opposite. The metabolic hypothesis states that the amount of self-control across species correlates negatively with metabolic rate (Tobin & Logue, 1994). Foraging honeybees have high metabolic rates; the metabolic hypothesis would predict little self-control in bees. But foraging bees work for the longterm good of their hive, conditions that seem to require self-control. In three experiments, we gave bees the choice between (1) a sweeter delayed reward and a less sweet immediate reward and (2) a large delayed reward and a small immediate reward. Bees showed much self-control, inconsistent with the metabolic hypothesis.

The research reported was supported by grants from Macquarie University.