London - You may find it hard to believe but honeybees have an eye for art. In tests, the insects showed a “remarkable ability” to distinguish a Monet from a Picasso.

The experiments were carried out to discover more about how bees search for food, but they could shed light on human appreciation of art.

The scientists at the University of Queensland in Australia began by teaching bees to associate either an abstract Picasso or impressionistic Monet print with a sugary reward, which was placed in a hole behind one of the paintings for each experiment.

Importantly, the bees couldn’t tell which painting contained the food until they were inside it, meaning they had to choose the right painting to get to the sugar.

The bees learnt to tell up to five different pairs of paintings apart, even when presented with pairs of pictures in black and white.

Because of this, the researchers believe the bees learnt how to recognise a painting’s underlying structure – or the artist’s style. They didn’t believe the bees were attracted by the smell of the sugar.

The scientists concluded the human brain might use the same technique for discerning different types of art. Dr Nigel Raine, an animal behaviour expert at Royal Holloway, University of London, said: “This helps us understand how bees learn about differences in the appearance of flowers.” - Daily Mail