What colors creatures see has long interested scientists, and aside from us, more is known about what colors bees see than any other living thing. Like us, bees are trichromatic. Whereas we base our color combinations on red, blue, and green, bees base all their colors on UV, blue , and green. Just as color blind people do not see red or green, and therefore experience the world of color differently, bees also perceive the world in colors entirely different from ours. Bees do not see red and have a hard time distinguishing it from surrounding green leaf backgrounds. Bees that frequent red flowers are either perceive them in color they can see, or the red flower is not being lost against a green background. Even though bees don’t see red, they can see other reddish wavelengths such as orange and yellow.
The light spectrum bees see is from 600 – 300 nm. The colors bees see are blue-green, blue, violet, and ultraviolet, with research showing our purple followed by our violet then our blue as their favorites. Mixing ultraviolet wavelengths with the wavelengths of colors they can and can’t see, gives bees a world of color different from our own. If deprived of UV light, bees lose interest in foraging, and remain in the hive until forced out by severe food shortages.
Bees not only see flowers in different colors than we do, bees also see ultra-violet light patterns, invisible to us, at the center that are a different color than the rest of the flower. From a bee’s-eye-view, the UV colors and patterns in a flower’s petals dramatically announce the flower’s stash of nectar and pollen. These UV patterns serve as a landing zone, guiding the bees to the nectar source.
add in UV
*even the experts don’t agree as to what colour the bee sees!
The color of these uv flowers is dependant on the filter used by the photographer, and is not the color perceived by the bee.
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