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Astral Codex Ten Podcast

Aug 24, 2023

[This is one of the finalists in the 2023 book review contest, written by an ACX reader who will remain anonymous until after voting is done. I’ll be posting about one of these a week for several months. When you’ve read them all, I’ll ask you to vote for a favorite, so remember which ones you liked]

Are bees smart? 

To answer that question, here’s a crab spider:

Sadly, this is not a review of a book called The Mind of a Crab Spider. But as you crab spider lovers know, crab spiders and bumble bees are natural rivals. 

Both bees and crab spiders are well-matched for strength and speed, and in the Rumble with the Bumble, the crab spider doesn’t necessarily win. Bees can often evade the spider, and live to pollinate another day. Lars Chittka, who wrote The Mind of a Bee, and who can safely be blamed for this book review, got thinking. He and his lab decided to build fake robotic crab spiders, and had them really robotically attack bumble bees when they visited flowers.