Self-control in honeybees

Ken Cheng*, Jennifer Peña, Melanie A. Porter, Julia D. Irwin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)


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 long-term 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-263
Number of pages5
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2002

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