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Do Honeybees Know Who They Keep?

We are asked fairly often if honeybees know their keeper. There is much debate over whether bees know who they keep. Yes, you read that correctly. Technically we are beekeepers. We like to say they keep us. They keep us sane; they keep us happy. They keep us learning and they keep us on our toes.

So, do our bees know us? There is a train of thought that bees don't live long enough to become familiar with their beekeeper. The thought is that beekeepers are naturally calmer around bees, so the bees are calm around them.

However, new studies have shown that bees can actually learn and remember a face. One study was able to show that bees were even able to recognize the same human face in a picture. Some believe this is a "bi-product" of their ability to remember flowers.

Another recent study showed that bees have an incredible sense of smell. They use smell for many things, including defending their hives. Many believe bees get to know a beekeeper by their scent.

Studies have shown that bees are capable of teaching other bees what they know. That this is how colonies of bees continue to trust their keeper. They teach young bees to be calm in a beekeeper's presence.

Ok, so if we hop on the "bees know us" train, can they be happy to see us? Yet another study has shown that bees convey happy emotions by flicks and sags of their antennae.

What do you think??


Adrian Dyer, Martin Giurfa, and Aurore Avarguès-Weber, published in the Journal of

Geraldine Wright, Newcastle University in the UK

Clint Perry, Queen Mary University of London

Jason G. Goldman, Scientific American

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