Colors Bees See
The faint scent of Sharyn’s Forever Young Intensive Hand Cream in Creamy Lavender wafts up from my tapping fingers as I type. Heavenly! And a reminder that spring with its delicious scents is right around the corner. Which means the bees will be out and about on a daily basis soon too. But it’s not only the smell of flowers that attracts them, it’s their colors too. Last week I reported that blue petunias weren’t all that attractive to pollinators and I got to wondering: Why wouldn’t a bee like a blue petunia?
The West Mountain Apiary has an excellent summary on this topic on its website, http://westmtnapiary.com/Bees_and_color.html. According to scientists, bees see a different range of wavelengths than we do; it is shifted to the left to include ultraviolet light. If you look at the diagram below, bees do indeed see in the blue range; in fact, they perceive blue, violet, purple and white all as blue to blue-green. They have the hardest time with red, especially if blends into the background.
Scientists think that this ability to see UV light is what gives bees “a world of color different from our own.” In fact, if deprived of UV light, bees lose interest in foraging, something many of us have observed on overcast days.
Take a look at the website for a complete explanation. There is also a link to some amazing photographs of what bees see in flowers. http://www.naturfotograf.com/UV_flowers_list.html.
All this still doesn’t answer one of my first questions: Why don’t they like blue petunias? I guess this will take some more delving into . . .