Bees see the world in an entirely different way. Their unique perceptual abilities can help us to perceive the world is a much richer way.
Bees are benevolent little workers who pollinate and beautify the blooms of the world. An integral part of the landscape, they burrow their furry yellow and black backs into the luscious centre of flowers, gather nectar and then cross-pollinate other flowers. It’s estimated that insects, particularly bees, are responsible for the growth of a third of humans’ food sources. So how do these busy workers see the world? Scientists say that adaptations to how a species sees their environment, will allow the species to thrive more than others. So their evolutionary adaptations of bees’ vision is very interesting.
Ultra Violet Glory
Bees see the world of blooms and plants in shades of ultra-violet (UV) glory. They have a completely different colour detection system compared to humans. They see on the UV spectrum. Something that humans need machinery to achieve. The Floral Reflectance Database (FReD) was created by researchers at Imperial College and Queen Mary University in London.
This research painstakingly documents the migratory movements of bees as they pollinate flowers. Then takes measurements to show the colour of plants on spectrum of what’s visible to both humans and bees. Scientists managed to do this by inserting micro-electrodes onto the bees and also using less invasive behavioural studies.
The World According to Bees
Professor Lars Chittka of QMU when he spoke with the BBC, emphasised that the world as we know it, is only one perception. ”This research highlights that the world we see is not the physical or the ‘real’ world – different animals have very different senses, depending on the environment the animals operate in”.
Bees see landing strips on the top of flowers, that appear invisible to the human eye but vibrant, attractive and colourful to the bees. These landing strips signal where they can get the best nectar. The landing strip takes the form of dots or concentric circles of colour that radiate out from the centre of the flower. This shiny, iridescent pattern says to the bee, come and put your tongue in there and take away some pollen.