Bluebell displays in bee vision

This spring we went to Enys gardens, which has an impressive bluebell display, and I took a snap with my full-spectrum camera to see what the carpet of colour looks like to the bees:

Bluebell display in human (left) and honey bee vision (right).
Bluebell display in human (left) and honey bee vision (right).

The bluebells are powerfully UV-absorbing, only targetting the bee’s shortwave cones. This results in the powerful green false colour in the image above. The primroses in the foreground are also UV-absorbing, but reflect in the bees shortwave and mediumwave range, so look yellow above.

The bark of the large coppiced hazel tree is highly UV reflective, and shows how some lichen species reflect UV while others absorb it.



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