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Bumblebees use perfume patterns to tell flowers apart

bumblebee flower perfume


Pollinators don’t just wing it when it comes to finding a sweet treat: the shape, colour, perfume and even electrical charge of flowers are all known to offer clues.

But now researchers say bumblebees also use another floral feature to guide them: how the concentration of a scent varies across the flower’s surface.

“Bees can tell the difference between flowers where the only difference is their spatial arrangement of scent – and that suggests they could use that information to make their foraging more efficient,” said Dr David Lawson, co-author of the research from the University of Bristol.

What’s more, scientists found that bees appear able to apply what they have learnt from patterns of scent to patterns of colour, suggesting the fuzzy critters might be even smarter than suspected. MORE

Header Image: A bumblebee walks across the surface of an artificial flower, working out the pattern of scent that has been made by placing peppermint oil in some of the holes. Credit: Dave Lawson, University of Bristol.

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