A bright sunny dahlia such as this is absolutely irresistible to bees…. and to myself. Bees (as am I) are mostly attracted to bright colored flowers, which is why wearing a brightly colored shirt may also attract bees, and also why beekeeper suits are white. Bees also have favorite colors which are yellow, blue and violet and dislike red which they actually see as black. They can also see the ultraviolet part of the spectrum which human eyes cannot detect. The world must look very different in the eyes of a bee, but despite this, we share a common appreciation of bright sunny dahlias. Happy weekend everyone!
Recently there have been two scientific studies which have highlighted how smart bees really are at learning. One of these studies trained bees to pull on a string which gave them access to a sucrose treat. The second study wanted to see if bees could perform a very unnatural task that required manipulation of a tool to get a reward. The bees were shown that the proper location of a yellow ball was inside a drawn circle. The bee then had to figure out how to relocate a misplaced ball back into the circle to gain a reward. Once the bee had learned these tasks they improved significantly each time, taking less time to complete the task. Not only did bees learn these tasks, other bees which were placed as observers could then complete the task themselves on the first try, hence learning the skill from watching a trained bee. This learning could be transferred through many successions of new trainers and new observers. These studies show that bees can learn new and complex tasks which were previously thought to be unique to vertebrates such as mammals and birds and also transfer those skills throughout their colony which may help them adapt in the presence of changing evolutionary pressures (click here to see a video highlighting these studies).
Yet another lovely nature photograph from Tasmania. Spring time brought with it many intensely colored flowers and the bees were all hard at work. The purple flower, yellow and black bee and lime green background all work together to enhance each of the colors even further. I was just lucky I finally got one photo where the bee stood still long enough to be in focus! There were so many of them on these particular flowers, and at first I was trying to follow the bees with the camera, which was not working. After much frustration and blurry bees, I eventually changed my strategy and just held the focus on the flower instead, until the bee landed in the frame. This gave me much more control over the focus without my camera moving around as much. This photo also reminds me that purple was my favorite color as a child.