bee see flower

How Do Bees See Flowers?

Vision is considered one of the most important parts of the body for humans, animals, birds, and insects. Just like humans, vision also enables bees to get things done easily. With the vision, bees identify the right flowers, feel the threat, and find food for themselves. However, the vision and ability to see by a bee differ from those of humans. The way bees see the world is completely different from human vision. The unique vision of bees helps them in identifying their targets and makes their food search easier.  

Before we move ahead and discuss bee’s vision and how they see flowers, we must know few things about bees’ eyes discussed in the following sections. 

Bee’s Eyes

Bee’s eyes are considered one of the most incredible parts of their body. As stated above, the structure of a bee’s eyes is nothing like a human’s. Bees have different eye structures. Like honeybees have five eyes with three ocelli eyes. Two of the five eyes are larger and are called compound eyes. 

bee ocelli eyes
Bee Ocelli and Compound Eyes

The eye structure of bees also enables them to see at night or during darker hours, especially during dusk and dawn. Especially, the three ocelli work as a wonder in this regard. Ocelli help in reflecting light that enables bees to see even if the night is dark. 

Additionally, the size of eyes also determines a bee’s ability to see. The types of bees with larger eyes enable bees to easily watch things more clearly and easily identify their target flower. To make it clearer, let us study about two major types of bees’ eyes.

Types of Bee’s Eyes

The bee’s eyes are distributed into two major types. Both of these types have different functionalities. The upper portion of bees’ eyes that include three ocelli has single lenses. This portion maintains navigation and stability in the eyes. With this portion, the bees can easily judge the intensity of light while staying oriented. Through these ocelli, bees can identify ultraviolet light to detect different UV colors of flowers. 

The second type of eyes in the bee includes two large compound eyes, as stated above. But what is the functionality of these eyes? The compound eyes are made of numerous facets, i.e., tiny lenses. The facets enhance the vision. The facets provide the signals to the brain that transforms the signals into clear pictures. 

Can Bees See Colors?

For so many years, people thought that bees are unable to see colors. However, this myth was proved wrong by Karl von Frisch, a scientist with a Nobel prize. That is why bees get attracted to bright colors and flower printed fabrics because they do see colors. 

Humans are capable of seeing wavelengths of around 390-750 nm. While bees lack this ability as they can only see 300-650 nm. This makes it a bit hard for bees to identify red colors. However, it does not mean bees are not capable of identifying colors. Bees can see even the ultraviolet spectrum. Additionally, bees can easily differentiate between light and dark and seeing edges. 

The bees’ ability to see colors enables them to target the parts of flowers with a good amount of nectar. They can easily differentiate between leaves and an actual flower. Additionally, research has proved that bees are capable of seeing more range of colors than humans. 

Bees can see ultraviolet lights. This enables them to identify nectar easily. The patterns of flowers that are invisible to humans are visible to the bees. Moreover, bees see colors faster than humans. One research shows this ability to be five times more than humans. Their fast vision makes collecting nectar extremely easy for them. 

How do Bees see Flowers?

If you have ever got the chance to drive on a highway with a large number of flowers around, try looking at the flowers. I bet you will not distinguish one flower from the other because human eyes are deprived of this capability. However, bees’ eyes have unique characteristics. 

Bees see flowers through their nectar. They can easily identify flowers based on their nectar-producing ability. Firstly, bees identify shiny petals. Shiny petals mostly mean more sugar. However, some flower petals are capable of changing colors based on the angle you are looking from. This is hard to identify with a human eye, but the unique structure of bees’ eyes enables them to see the actual colors clearly and don’t get confused with the angle. Moreover, bees are also capable of seeing attractive flowers based on their ability to get pollinated. 

How Do Flowers Attract Pollinators?

The petals of some flowers work as a light for bees and pollinators. Flowers have scents and nectars that attract pollinators. So, the main strategies that flowers use for attracting pollinators include color and scent. Most of the time, bees have memory lapses. If something like that happens, then bees use a blend of chemicals and visuals for locating flowers to get food.

Bees Eyes and Electric Fields of Flowers

People often consider that bees get attracted to a flower based on its color and smell, but these are not the only things that attract bees. Along with offering great smell and bright colors, the pollination also has electricity in the air. The bees are capable of sensing electricity in the air. This electricity and their unique ability to sense them enable bees to identify flowers with higher pollination. 

This fact had also been proved by scientists years ago. The flowers are earthed with electricity. When the flowers are charged positively, the bees arrive on the flowers with a negative charge. So, it is not only the vision and smell that work as an attractant but electric fields too.    

Flying and Bees Ability to See

Along with the unique structure of bees’ eyes, flying is also a great advantage for the bees. Flying also enables them to see things and differentiate flowers more clearly. Bees are capable of seeing depth with a three-dimension. Additionally, the structure of their eyes also allows them to judge distance. 

After a bee identifies a good location for getting food, it starts waggle dancing in the frame, enabling other bees to see it. And they all start heading towards that location.

Bees and the Waggle Dance

However, their judgment about the distance is not always accurate. Sometimes, they misjudge the distance resulting in a lost way and ultimately lose energy and time. Sometimes, when bees misjudge distance and get lost in the way, they also lose their hives and might even fail to find them again. 

Before You Leave…

Bees do not have as technical and complex life as humans do. Their vision, body structure, eating habits, everything is much simpler than other species and humans. However, despite having a tiny body and simple structure, bees have more capability to see things. Bees can see more colors than humans. They can even identify flowers from a distance, even while flying in the sky. 

Their unique capability enables bees to understand things better and search for the desired flowers to get nectar and pollinate. This can’t be done with an ordinary eye. So, don’t confuse yourself with the old saying because bees can see. 

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