Spring Flowers in Bee Vision

Here are some flowers converted to human and honeybee vision. Where our eyes have three receptor types sensitive to red, green and blue, honeybees have receptors for green, blue and ultraviolet, shifting the wavelength range they can see compared to us. The flowers that try to attract bees and other pollinators often have details that can only be seen with UV-vision.

Methods:

I took all of these photographs with a Samsung NX1000 converted to full spectrum and a Nikkor EL 80mm lens (with a helicoid for focussing), or a Novoflex Noflexar 35mm. Visible shots were through a Baader UV/IR cut filter and UV shots were through a Baader Venus-U filter. The photographs were normalised against a grey standard and converted to cone-catch quanta using my custom written software. Human vision is CIE XYZ cone catch, while honeybee vision is medium-wave, short-wave and ultraviolet conecatch. The linear images were then square-root transformed so that they display nicely on monitors.

snowdrop uv bee vision
Snowdrop in human-vision on the left, and bee-vision on the right. Equipment: NX1000 with Nikkor EL 80mm.

This snowdrop is interesting, with the green section of the flower having strong long-wave reflection for bees in comparison to the green leaves.

moth orchid uv bee vision
Moth orchid in human and bee vision. Ok, not exactly a spring flower, but interesting nonetheless. Equipment: NX1000 with Nikkor EL 80mm.

 

crocus uv bee vision
Crocuses in human and bee vision. Some early queen bees were visiting the flowers. Equipment: NX1000 with Nikkor EL 80mm.
green alkanet uv bee vision
Green Alkanet (a type of borage) in human and bee vision. The flowers are extremely bright to bee vision against the background. Equipment: NX1000 with Nikkor EL 80mm.
Lesser Celandine in human-vision (left) and honeybee vision
Lesser Celandine in human-vision (left) and honeybee vision (right). There’s a striking colour difference in UV. The whole flower looks yellow to us, however the petals reflect UV strongly and absorb blue (so look purple in this image), while the pollen in the centre doesn’t reflect UV, so looks red. This makes the flower look much more colourful to bees than ourselves. Equipment: NX1000 with Novoflex Noflexar 35mm.
Rosemary in human-vision (left) and honeybee vision (right).
Rosemary in human-vision (left) and honeybee vision (right). Equipment: NX1000 with Novoflex Noflexar35mm.
Grape Hyacinth in human-vision (left) and honeybee vision (right).
Grape Hyacinth in human-vision (left) and honeybee vision (right). Equipment: NX1000 with Nikkor EL 80mm.
Gorse in human-vision (left) and honeybee vision (right).
Gorse in human-vision (left) and honeybee vision (right). As with the Lesser Celandine this looks plain yellow to us, but the petals split into two types – the upper petals reflect UV (purple) while the lower ones do not (red). Equipment: NX1000 with Novoflex Noflexar 35mm.
Gorse in human-vision (left) and honeybee vision (right).
Gorse in human-vision (left) and honeybee vision (right). Equipment: NX1000 with Novoflex Noflexar 35mm.

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