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).
These lovely, pink, cheerful flowers are just one type of Echinacea, in which there are 9 different species. I took these photographs in the Spring of last year and on this particular day the bees were in out in overwhelming numbers. This made for some easy macro photography of these busy bees because all I had to do was point my camera at a flower and click. Echinacea may sound familiar as it is a herb said to have numerous health benefits such as cold prevention, boosting the immune system, anti-inflammatory effects, mental health improvement and many more. However, even though there are some studies which may show it is has beneficial effects, there are others which say that these effects are yet unfounded. Regardless of whether Echinacea is good for us, it is definitely beneficial to your garden to grow such happy looking flowers which encourage the bees to come and visit.