Bees are able to grasp basic mathematical ideas, according to a new study, which suggests a small brain may not mean low intelligence.

After training a group of the pollinating insects scientists at the French National Centre for Scientific Research found they were able to perform addition and subtraction.

These abilities require animals to carry out intricate processes in their brains, remembering complex rules while applying them to new situations.

Maths was therefore long thought an ability unique to humans, but in recent years experiments have shown the skill is found across the animal kingdom.

Chimpanzees, parrots and pigeons are just some of the creatures that have demonstrated the capacity to add and subtract.