Bees See Blue

Exciting new findings from OSU researchers may lead to better pollination and attract more bees to Oregon crops. When I say exciting, I mean charged photons flying at incredible speeds, colliding with surfaces, and reflecting back at different speeds… It’s not that exciting really, but that’s how they found out about bees’ preference for blue.

Dr. Oksana Ostroverkhova, author of the study, determined that bees were not just attracted to blue in general, but a specific wavelength in the ultraviolet spectrum. Unlike humans, bees can see ultraviolet. As a side note, check out pictures of flowers in ultraviolet to get a better idea of how bees perceive their pollination destinations.

Traps have since been developed utilizing blue ultraviolet coated materials. Though not yet ready for commercial purposes, Dr. Ostroverkhova is confident that these traps and their materials are economic enough to become useful to farmers.

What makes this study truly unique is that through collaboration with OSU entomology researchers, Dr. Ostroverkhova was able to test the success and potential for farm use of these traps in the real world. While most, if not all other studies on bee vision have been done in the lab, often with captive-bred honeybees, this study was done in the field.

Though implementation and commercial availability of these traps are a future goal, this study gives hope that one day we can manipulate bees to our every whim. However, before we accomplish that, we would probably see these traps being utilized by farmers to attract large amounts of bees to their crops during critical pollination times.

By Anthony Vitale