How does it feel to a bee when she senses Calendula?
Yes, she groks the scent and sight of the flower, in her bee-ish fashion. Bright colors, petal patterns and intoxicating fumes play a role, to be sure — bees have fantastic olfactory sensors and can even see ultraviolet light.
But these aren’t the bee-all. Get this…
According to a research team at the University of Bristol, bees sense the electrical fields of flowers!
BUT HOW? Recently the researchers published some, er, electrifying news:
“Bees have tiny hairs that dance in response to electric fields” says a press release from Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences. Think about how your hair stands up when you rub a balloon to your head, generating a field of static electricity. That’s pretty much what happens inside a Bumblebee, the particular species being studied by these researchers.
The bee literally tingles inside…
This is a very real sixth sense. Researchers are calling it electroreception.
And it turns out many insects have the same sort of hairs inside. It remains to be established if these others respond like bees to electrical fields, but if so, the implications are even more enormous.
Flowers and their pollinators have closely co-evolved for sure, and if we want our planet to stay green, we had better be awfully careful about how we treat our insect cousins.