Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Flowers' polarization patterns help bees find food

Date:
June 5, 2014
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
Bees use their ability to 'see' polarized light when foraging for food, researchers have discovered. This is the first time bees have been found to use this ability for something other than navigation.

Bees use their ability to 'see' polarized light when foraging for food.
Credit: © Sailorr / Fotolia

Bees use their ability to 'see' polarized light when foraging for food, researchers based at the University of Bristol have discovered. This is the first time bees have been found to use this ability for something other than navigation.

Like many other insect pollinators, bees find their way around by using a polarization sensitive area in their eyes to 'see' skylight polarization patterns. However, while other insects are known to use such sensitivity to identify appropriate habitats, locate suitable sites to lay their eggs and find food, a non-navigation function for polarization vision has never been identified in bees -- until now.

Professor Julian Partridge, from Bristol's School of Biological Sciences and the School of Animal Biology at the University of Western Australia, with his Bristol-based colleagues investigated whether bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) can learn the polarization patterns of artificial 'flowers' in order to obtain a food reward.

They found that freely foraging bumblebees soon learnt to differentiate between rewarding (sucrose solution providing) and aversive (quinine solution providing) artificial 'flowers' with two different polarization patterns. However, the bees could only discriminate between the two targets when the targets were viewed from below.

Polarization patterns occur on the petals of real flowers but are invisible to us and thus may be a hitherto overlooked component of floral signalling. Around 53 per cent of flower species face downwards and thus their polarization patterns are presented in such a way as to be visually accessible to the region of the bee's eye which includes the polarization sensitive Dorsal Rim Area. Light reflected from downward facing flowers also has the potential to contrast with skylight polarization patterns, potentially helping the bee to detect and identify such flowers.

Professor Partridge said: "Both pollinator and plant fitness is greatly dependent on the ability of pollinators to discriminate flowers accurately, and bees have been shown to be able to use a wide range of floral cues, including colour, shape, texture, certain chemical compounds and temperature, to improve the identification and recognition of flowers.

"Recent findings have added floral humidity and electric fields as additional methods with which pollinators can discriminate flowers, and it is advantageous for a plant to produce a number of different signals that a pollinator can utilise effectively. Our findings suggest polarisation vision may provide sensory access to an additional floral cue for bees."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. James J. Foster, Camilla R. Sharkey, Alicia V.A. Gaworska, Nicholas W. Roberts, Heather M. Whitney, Julian C. Partridge. Bumblebees Learn Polarization Patterns. Current Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.05.007

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Flowers' polarization patterns help bees find food." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140605141717.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2014, June 5). Flowers' polarization patterns help bees find food. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140605141717.htm
University of Bristol. "Flowers' polarization patterns help bees find food." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140605141717.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) — Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) — A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins