Bees are one of the most important pollinators on our planet. They have a unique vision system that allows them to navigate and forage for food. Unlike humans, who have three types of color receptors, bees have five. Their additional receptors allow them to see ultraviolet light and perceive the world around them in ways that we cannot. This ability to see in blue UVa (ultraviolet A) range could be key to their survival as it may help them detect viruses.
When it comes to UV vision, bees have an advantage over humans. UV light, which has a wavelength between 320 and 400 nm, is invisible to the human eye. However, bees have an additional photoreceptor that is sensitive to UV light. This receptor is located in the front of their eyes and allows them to see in the UV range, which extends up to around 300 nm.
The importance of UV vision to bees can be seen in their behavior. For example, flowers have unique UV patterns that act as visual cues to attract bees. The UV patterns on a flower’s petals help bees to identify the flower’s center and locate the nectar and pollen. In addition to using UV vision for flower recognition, bees also use it for navigation. They are able to use the polarization of UV light to navigate to and from the hive.
But the ability to see in the UV range may have an even more critical function for bees. Recent studies have suggested that bees may be able to see viruses using their UV vision. Some viruses, including the deformed wing virus (DWV), can change the color of a bee’s exoskeleton. This color change may be visible in the UV range, making it possible for bees to detect infected bees and avoid them. This is particularly important because infected bees can spread the virus to other members of the colony, which can ultimately lead to colony collapse.
While the ability of bees to see viruses using UV vision is still being researched, the potential implications are significant. If bees are indeed able to use their UV vision to detect viruses, it could provide a new method for beekeepers to monitor the health of their hives. By using UV-sensitive cameras to monitor changes in bee color, beekeepers may be able to identify infected bees early and take steps to prevent the spread of disease within the hive.
In conclusion, the ability of bees to see in the blue UVa range is a unique and vital aspect of their vision system. Their additional photoreceptor allows them to perceive the world around them in ways that humans cannot. While the full extent of the bee’s UV vision is still being researched, it is clear that their ability to see in the UV range has important implications for their survival. The possibility that bees may be able to see viruses using their UV vision is an exciting discovery that could ultimately lead to new ways of protecting these vital pollinators.