This is maybe the most adorable scientific study of the year: researchers have been testing whether bumblebees like to play with toys… and they do!

We know that bees are willing to put in the work, especially for the good of the hive but also for rewards.

A previous study gave bees the chance to roll wooden balls into a target to get a reward.

They did it, of course.

The surprise was, sometimes the bees rolled the wooden balls away from the designated area, even when there was no reward on the line.

A team at the Queen Mary University of London decided to study what was happening.

In a series of experiments, they essentially presented the bees with a choice.

They could go straight through to a feeding area, or they could choose an area with a bunch of wooden balls.

Time after time, the test subjects made a beeline – pun intended – for the area where they could roll wooden balls.

Because they did this repeatedly, it likely wasn’t just about curiosity.

And because rolling the wooden balls didn’t help them get a physical need, like food or shelter, the researchers concluded the bees must be after an internal reward.

Or, to put it another way, they rolled the wooden balls simply because they liked doing it.

Another interesting finding: the younger bees rolled the balls more often than the older bees.

So play really is the job of childhood, even when you’re a bee.

In Duluth, Minnesota, the famous Bentleyville Tour of Lights is underway.

At the city’s Bayfront Festival Park, near Lake Superior, you can travel through a holiday display that includes more than 5 million lights.

And don’t forget the stops for cookies and hot cocoa, either…

Bumblebees Like Playing With Toys, Study Finds (Treehugger)

Bentleyville Tour of Lights

We all need to play, but thanks to our Patreon backers, working on this show is awfully fun, too

Photo by Robert Karma via Flickr/Creative Commons