Bees navigate in the outside world with the help of the senses. These include: sight, hearing, smell, taste and other organs.
Today I am going to write to you about one of the sensory organs of bees, the eyes. I will do my best to answer some of the most frequently asked questions; how many eyes does a bee have, what is the structure of their eyes, position, how do they recognize colors, do they see in the dark…
TTwo Eyes Or Maybe More?
If you look from afar and wonder “how many eyes does a bee have?” you will most likely answer, “Two.” And make a mistake. Because in fact a bee has 5 eyes, two large compound eyes located on the sides of the head and have an oval appearance. Three more simple eyes are located on the crown of the insect, but they are only visible upon closer inspection.
With the help of compound eyes, bees can see objects that are far away, which is why they orient themselves while flying in space. Simple eyes allow them to create an image of the immediate vicinity, which allows insects to collect pollen.
Structure And Position Of Bee Eyes
Researchers have been wondering for years how small insects like bees can travel long distances in search of flower fields and gardens, how they find flowers and how they see nature. The whole secret and answer lies in the unusual nature of their vision.
There are three types of bees in the bee family – drones, workers and queens. They all perform different functions, and therefore the structure of their eyes is different.
Simple eyes (bees) are quite small and lie triangularly arranged on the front of the upper part of the head. Ocelli detect light, but with them bees cannot see the picture as with complex eyes. Their function is to see objects nearby, which means that if they were not in function, the bees would still see.
The compound eyes are considerably larger, located laterally on the head, oblong and immobile. They are built of several thousand small eyes, facets or ommatidia. They are hexagonal in shape and their number varies.
A queen bee has about 4,000 of small eyes, the workers 5,000, and the drones about 8,000.
Each tiny eye is made up of three basic structural elements: the diopter apparatus, which consists of the cornea and crystal cells, the visual cells that make up the retina, and the pigment cells that optically isolate the eyelets.
It is important to point out that complex eyes are better developed in honey bees, and simple eyes are better developed in queens and drones. This is due to the scope of their activities.
How Do Bees Recognize Colors?
When it comes to color recognition, bees distinguish colors well, but not all of them. They can identify yellow, ultraviolet, blue and blue-green well, while they cannot see red, i.e. they identify it as dark gray or as black. It is important for bees to see the ultraviolet part of the spectrum because almost a quarter of the flowers reflect ultraviolet rays. Additionally, they distinguish the shapes of individual objects and individual flowers very well.
How Do Bees Recognize Flowers By Color?
Performing a flight at a speed of 25-30 km per hour, bees are not able to see colors. Only when they slow down and get closer to the desired object do they turn on the color vision. As mentioned earlier, hairs located on faceted visual organs vibrate in the electric field emitted by the flower, because flowers attract insects not only by their bright color, but also by heat or electricity that affects the nervous system. Moreover, the field is negative in plants and positive in working individuals. And as a result, there is a charge between them that passes through the hairs.
Did you know? If you move the hive from one place to another, then the arriving bee will go to the initial stay in its house. A bee’s eye is a very complex and unique organ, thanks to which the insect quite pleasantly experiences the outside world and performs its function 100%.
How Do Bees See Objects?
If in complex organs of sight the image consists of a multitude of images, then insects look at objects nearby with simple eyes. Interestingly, when you rule out the possibility of sight aspect, the bees behave like blind or visually impaired and may feel that the objects are only getting close enough to them. With complex eyes, the bee is able to observe large spaces that allow it to navigate during flight.
However, the bee distinguishes only large objects. Despite the fact that the bee itself is tiny, compared to a person, its eye is not able to perceive small details. A person sees objects 30 times less than those a bee can see.
Do Bees See In The Dark?
Thanks to the presence of simple eyes, honey collectors can see at night. True, the night vision does not give clear images, but they still see better than other insects.
The Eyes Of Bees Compared To The Eyes Of Man
Experiments with bees were performed by scientists in different conditions, which resulted in the bee’s eye perceiving shorter light waves than the human eye. Bees not only see the range from red to purple, but they also see ultraviolet waves.
Based on this, it can be concluded that bees see more shades than humans, and insects distinguish flowers that seem the same to us. In any case, flowers, white for people, for bees have different shades.
However, scientists have discovered that bees do not distinguish red, so it could be assumed that shades of red look black. One nice conclusion is that, for a person to be able to see flowers the way bees see them, it would seem much more beautiful to him/her. That is, the bee sees poppy flower not as red, but “ultraviolet”.
Bees distinguish up to 200 flashes of light per second, while humans only 20. This allows bees to communicate with each other, actively move in the hive, move their legs and wings quickly, and the person practically does not notice these movements, while bees see them clearly. This helps the bees to sit accurately even on the swinging flower, clearly determining the distance to it.
Bees Can Also See The Invisible
Bees can actually sense the electric field of flowers (which has a slightly negative electric charge). Amazing, isn’t it?
The flower attracts bees with its color, unique patterns and its scent. But there is much more to it than pollen and odors, there is also electricity in the air.
Dominic Clarke and Heather Whitney of the University of Bristol have proven that bees can sense the electric field that surrounds a flower. They can recognize fields with different flower shapes and recognize whether they have recently been visited by other bees.
Flowers are not only visual and fragrant; flowers are actually an “electric billboard”.
“This is a great discovery,” said Daniel Robert, who led the study. “No one has guessed the idea that bees can be sensitive to the electrical area of a flower.”
However, scientists have known about this behavior since the 1960s, but no one has researched or discussed it in depth. As bees fly through the air, they bump into charged dust particles to small molecules. The friction of these microscopic collisions peels electrons from the bee’s body surface, and usually ends in a positive charge.
Bees can recognize special flower patterns; learn to recognize the difference between e-flowers and those that have not yet discharged their voltage, with an accuracy of 70 percent.