Plants and bees have a symbiotic relationship. Flowering plants depend on an outside source to ‘spread the love’ through pollination, and bees are happy to fill that need, receiving nectar (which they convert into honey) for the service they provide.
But how do bees manage to be so efficient in their quest for nectar? And is it true this delicately balanced relationship is under threat?
Scientists at Britain’s University of Bristol have spent 30 years trying to figure out exactly how bees know which flowers will give them the most bang for their buck, so to speak. The recent discovery is that bees and flowers participate in a mutually beneficial electromagnetism that results not only in the pollination and proliferation of the plants, but the nourishment of the bees and the hives they call home.
Research reveals that bees rely on an array of visual and sensory clues such as humidity level, shape, pattern and color to discern whether flowers have something to offer. In fact, it is known that bees have three times the color recognition ability of humans, but the electrical aspect, and the fact that it can last up to a few hours is new information.
Electrical Allure: Bees Can Tell Which Flowers Spark the Most Interest
Scientists have been aware for years that plants emit a weak, negatively charged electrical field. They also knew that in flight, the wings of bees can generate up to 200 volts of positive electrical charge, which helps pollen adhere to the fine hairs on the bees’ legs.
What they didn’t know until now was that bees can sense “come hither” electrical vibes that flowering plants exude, similar to the way sharks also sense electrical fields. Bumblebees, too, participate in this electrically charged phenomenon.
Bees can sense the weak electrical charge emitted by flowers in order to determine if they have nectar, the new study revealed. Even better, scientists say bees are capable of altering the electrical charge of the blossoms they come into contact with to help them choose which ones contain the most nectar and pollen.