Making a Beeline For The Nectar: How Patterns on Flowers Help Bees Spot Their First Nectar-Rich Flower

Science Daily   6/20/13

Bumblebees searching for nectar go for signposts on flowers rather than the bull's eye. A new study, by Levente Orbán and Catherine Plowright from the University of Ottawa in Canada, shows that the markings at the center of a flower are not as important as the markings that will direct the bees to the center.

The work is published online in Springer's journal, Naturwissenschaften -- The Science of Nature.

The first time bees go out looking for nectar, which visual stimuli do they use to identify that first flower that will provide them with the reward they are looking for? Orbán and Plowright test the relative influence of the type of floral pattern versus pattern position in a group of bumblebees that have never searched for nectar before i.e. flower-naive bees.

In a series of two experiments using both radio-frequency identification technology and video recordings, the researchers exposed a total of over 500 flower-naive bees to two types of patterns on...

Read more...