Studying the interesting way bees perceive color will strengthen your appreciation for these amazing flying critters. Without their fascinating eyesight, they would not have the ability to pollinate so many plants, which is vital for our survival on this planet.
If a human were to try to imagine what it would be like to experience the world through the eyes of a bee, they would first have to picture what it would be like to have not two eyes, but five. The bee’s head contains three smaller eyes known as ocelli and two compound eyes, which are larger.
The ocelli, which sit at the center of the bee’s head, gauge light intensity. These help the bee orient itself as it flies through the air. The compound eyes, which are on each side of the head, are compiled of thousands of small lenses, or facets, that take in miniscule parts of the bee’s point of view. The bee’s brain later combines the images to make the complete picture.
Their Own Color Vision
The interesting way bees perceive color is not too terribly different from the way people do. The major difference is which colors bees are able to perceive. Bees and humans are trichromatic, meaning we have three photoreceptors in our eyes. Human and bee vision is drawn from the three colors our photoreceptors can read. For humans, those colors are red, blue, and green. For bees, however, those colors are blue, green, and ultraviolet light.
Bees’ ability to perceive ultraviolet light is at the heart of their skills as pollinators. As they fly through the air and scan the Earth below, bees are able to pick up ultraviolet patterns on specific flower petals. These patterns guide bees to nectar.
The human race should be thankful that bees have this unique eyesight. Without their skills, they would not be able to locate the nectar and then pollinate plants. This process allows our food to grow and our animals to eat, and it ultimately creates the conditions for our survival.