See Inside January/February 2012

Bees Appear to Experience Moods

Provocative experiments suggest that insects have something resembling emotions

To put it another way, our criteria for assessing animal emotions should be blind to whether the animal has fur, feathers or an exoskeleton. Either bees and other invertebrates get a trial membership in the club of the genuinely anxious, or we must concede that our beloved pets’ seemingly pessimistic actions imply nothing about their feelings. For a smitten dog owner, at least, the choice is probably obvious.

This article was originally published with the title "Perspectives: The Secret Inner Life of Bees."

(Further Reading)

  • An Integrative and Functional Framework for the Study of Animal Emotion and Mood. Michael Mendl, Oliver H. P. Burman and Elizabeth S. Paul in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Vol. 277, pages 2895–2904; October 7, 2010.
  • Agitated Honeybees Exhibit Pessimistic Cognitive Biases. Melissa Bateson et al. in Current Biology, Vol. 21, No. 12, pages 1070–1073; June 2, 2011.


Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Scientific American Mind Digital

Get 6 bi-monthly digital issues
+ 1yr of archive access for just $9.99

Hurry this offer ends soon! >


Email this Article


Next Article