How ‘bees see world’
Washington: Scientists have developed FReD – the Floral Reflectance Database – which holds data on what colours flowers appear to be, to bees.
The work by researchers at Queen Mary, University of London and Imperial College London addresses the existing issue that records of flower colours do not take the visual systems of pollinator insects into account.
Bees – for example – have evolved completely different colour detection mechanisms to humans, and can see colours outside our own capabilities in the ultra-violet range.
"This research highlights that the world we see is not the physical or the ''real'' world – different animals have very different senses, depending on the environment the animals operate in," Professor Lars Chittka from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences said.
Chittka and his team have measured the spectral reflectance of a number of flowers in different locations and analysed what bumblebees perceive, including different shades of ultra-violet.
Queen Mary PhD student Sarah Arnold, who was also involved with the project, said: "We have created a database in which the colours of flowers are indexed from this vitally important pollinator's point of view. For the first time, this database will allow us to analyse global trends in flower colour, for example how flower colours might change in areas with high UV radiation. There are many possible applications for scientists from different fields."
The work has been reported in the journal PLoS ONE.