Bumblebees are remarkable navigators. While their flight paths may look scattered to the casual eye, all that buzzing about is anything but random. Like the travelling salesman in the famous mathematical problem of how to take the shortest path along multiple stops, bumblebees quickly find efficient routes among flowers. And once they find a good route, they stick to it. The same goes for other animals from hummingbirds to bats to primates that depend on patchy resources such as nectar and fruit. Perhaps this is not such a surprising feat for animals with relatively high brain power. But how do bumblebees, with their tiny brains, manage it? As new research in this issue of PLOS Biology by Lars Chittka and colleagues shows, a simple strategy may be enough for a real-world solution to this complex problem.
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