Image of the Day: What Does a Bee See? 

Scientists identify floral temperature patterns as a sensory cue that may help bees identify flower species. 

Dec 21, 2017
The Scientist Staff, The Scientist Staff

Thermograph images show the floral heat patterns of poppy flowers (left) and daisies (right) UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL Bumblebees, honeybees, and stingless bees use floral temperature as a cue to identify the flower species they pollinate. Scientists have found that floral temperature tends to vary across different parts of a flower, forming patterns that appear to assist their pollinators in recognizing them.

In an experiment, researchers made artificial flowers that mimicked the heat patterns they observed on real flowers, without replicating the corresponding color patterns. They then presented the “flowers” to bumblebees, which appeared to use the temperature patterns to distinguish between different flower types. 

M.J.M. Harrap et al., “The diversity of floral temperature patterns, and their use by pollinators,” eLife, doi:10.7554/eLife.31262, 2017.