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Bees use patterns to find flowers, not just colours

Introduction: why bees are important

Bees are one of the most important pollinators of agricultural crops, and their populations have been in decline in recent years. There are many reasons for this decline, including the use of pesticides, loss of habitat, and disease.

Bees play an essential role in the pollination of many flowering plants. They transfer pollen from the male organ or stamen to the female organ or pistil as they move from flower to flower collecting nectar. This is the process that fertilises the plant so that it can produce seeds, fruits, and/or vegetables. Did you know one out of every three bites of food we eat is made possible by bees pollinating crops, and without them our diets would be very limited. In addition to their role in agriculture, they also help to keep ecosystems in balance by pollinating wildflowers.

What bees see: colour vs pattern

Bees can see a variety of colours, but they’re especially drawn to blue and ultraviolet hues. However, bees don’t just rely on this to find flowers, they also can use patterns and the size of the flower to identify potential food sources.

Researchers have found that bees are able to distinguish between different patterns, even when the colours are the same. This ability to see patterns is important because it allows them to find flowers even when they’re not in full bloom. By focusing on the overall shape of the flower, rather than just the colour, bees can locate potential food sources.

bee gathering pollen from wildflowers

How bees find flowers: the importance of patterns

The patterns on flowers help bees determine their size, shape, and location. Bees usually have a preference for certain types of flowers and will associate cues within floral displays for these. The patterns within these floral displays make it easier for bees to find the flowers that are going to give them the best rewards.

The benefits of patterns for bees

Bees have an incredible sense of sight and are able to see a wide range of colours. Scientists believe that patterns may help bees better distinguish between different types of flowers. For example, a bee might be able to tell the difference between a flower with stripes and a flower with dots. This ability could come in handy when a bee is trying to find a specific type of flower.

In addition, patterns may help bees determine the size of a flower, which is important because bees need to know how much nectar a flower has before they decide whether or not to visit it.

bee gathering pollen

Conclusion: the importance of patterns for bees

Overall, patterns can provide bees with valuable information about their surroundings. By taking advantage of these patterns, bees can more efficiently find the flowers they need. Scientists believe that this ability to see patterns helps bees find flowers with more nectar quicker. Bees are constantly on the move, and any time they can save is important.

This research could have important implications for the future of bee populations, as it can impact the different foraging choices of bees. Further to this, the research identifies that patterns help bees to distinguish between different flowers and suggests that by planting a variety of flowers that have patterns rather than just plain colours, could help the bee population in the long run. If we can better understand how bees find flowers, we may be able to help them in areas where their populations are declining.

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