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New research finds bumblebees like to play with toys

(SOUNDBITE OF THE ONEUPS' "KATAMARITAINO (KATAMARI DAMACY)")

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

Not only do bumblebees pollinate, make honey and even count, but they also seem to like to throw a ball around. A new study published in the scientific journal Animal Behaviour found that the furry little insects like to play with toys. This is the first time an insect, any insect has been observed playing with an object. Researchers at Queen Mary University of London put wooden balls near the bumblebees, giving them the option of passing them by or going out of their way to play. And many of them, pardon the pun, made a beeline for the balls, rolling them or doing somersaults while holding them.

Researchers said that because the bees like to play, it may be proof that they're also capable of experiencing feelings - more specifically that they are able to have positive feelings. The authors noted that just like other mammals, including humans, of course, younger bees seem to be more playful than the older ones who are probably like me, just trying to go about their day. They also hope that the findings will make us appreciate the little creatures and do more to protect them and their habitat.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE ONEUPS' "KATAMARITAINO (KATAMARI DAMACY)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.