The Daily Telegraph

Bees have eye for blossoms’ pattern

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Bees rely heavily on flower patterns – not just colours – when searching for nectar and pollen, research found.

Previous studies suggested that honeybees primarily use their eyes to discrimina­te between shades of colour when distinguis­hing various blossoms, as they have low-resolution vision.

Scientists believed that in order for pollinator­s to tell flowers apart, the plants evolved different petal colours.

But new research suggests pollinator­s can “very effectivel­y” distinguis­h between different species of flower using a combinatio­n of colour and pattern – meaning flowers can also use patterns to diversify their displays.

Prof Natalie Hempel de Ibarra, of the University of Exeter, who led the study, said: “Our findings suggest that flowers don’t need to evolve too many different petal colours, because they can use patterns to diversify their displays so bees can tell them apart from other flowers.”

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