Bee Smart

Josh | August 24, 2016 | News


A large number of arguments in a car is a couple fighting over which direction to go, so they invented the sat nav. Extremely useful as I myself have to use one every single day and have only been lost once or twice.

Reading through my daily dose of wildlife I came across a very interesting story about one of nature’s best friends, the Honey Bee. Not only could we not live without this wonderful insect, but biologist Professor Adam Hart has discovered that in order to find the prefect flower, the Honey Bee will use its own built in sat nav.

Could this animal get any better? Yes, it can. Not only can it navigate from flower to flower but also pass on the exact location to his colleagues once it finds the perfect combination of pollen and nectar, great communication skills.

And before you ask no they do not have an actual sat nav that would be insane. The Bees use the angle of the sun to locate their way around. So the question being, is a Bee as smart as todays modern sat nav? I really think so.

How do they do it?

The Bee has some incredible skills. When a Bee is flying through the air it becomes positively charged, which then causes a reaction with a negatively charged flower on impact. It is unclear what the benefits of this are but some research suggests it could be the plant sending a message through the Bee’s nervous system via the hairs on their body (think of a positively charged balloon against your hair) or vice versa.

With more eyes than a human (5 by the way) Bees are not able to see flowers the same way that we do, instead seeing them in the ultraviolet spectrum of light. Plants are aware of this and decorate themselves in pretty patterns that are attractive under ultraviolet light.  In the picture (right) you can see on the right we have the flower in normal light and on the left under ultraviolet.

Once the best source of nectar and pollen is located the Bees will fly back to their colony to boast about their find and reveal the location of it to the rest of their Bee friends by doing the ‘Waggle Dance’.

The Waggle Dance is an ingenious method used to show where they found the flower. By dancing at a specific angle to the sun to tell the others which direction to go in and also how much of a distance it is by the length of dance. The eccentricity of the dance indicates how good a plant it is.

Nature will always continue to astound me and there is still so much to learn about them.