Bumblebees Do Feel Pain, Study Confirms

Scientists at one of the most renowned universities in the world are convinced they have proof that bees do feel pain.

Picture shows Lars Chittka – author of “The Mind of a Bee”, undated. In “The Mind of a Bee”, Prof Lars Chittka draws from decades of research to determine that the insects have astonishing cognitive capabilities. (NewsX/Bee)

The study, conducted by researchers at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), follows years of heated debate regarding the question of whether insects sense aches.

For their study, which involved 82 buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus terrestris), the researchers divided the pollinators into three groups.

They touched the antennae of the animals of one group with a soldering iron measuring 65 degrees centigrade.

Prof Lars Chittka explained: “In the first two minutes after being touched with the noxiously-heated probe, bees groomed their touched antenna more than their untouched antenna, more than bees that were touched on the antenna with an unheated probe and more than control bees groomed either of their antennae.”

Picture shows a Bombus terrestris, undated. (Marco Almbauer, NewsX/Bee)

The award-winning zoologist concluded: “Our results clearly show that bumblebees can direct grooming towards a site of noxious stimulation. Our findings thus refute arguments that claim that insects do not feel pain because of their lack of displaying this behaviour.”

Entomologists previously assumed that insects do not feel any pain as they have been observed feeding and mating despite being injured, according to the New Scientist.

Prof Chittka told the magazine: “This grooming in itself is not direct evidence for pain. But it’s an important dent in the argument that insects obviously don’t feel pain.”


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