Can Plants Hear When Pollinators Approach?

Research has shown that bees are able to detect differences in sugar concentration among flowers. So while buzzing around a garden full of flowers, they can zero in on the sweetest nectar, even when the sugar content differs by less than three percent. A 2019 study conducted by Tel Aviv University researchers scrutinized another aspect of that symbiotic relationship. The study seems to indicate that some flowers can “hear” the approach of a bee -- in the sense that it detects sound waves -- and can increase sugar content by as much as 20 percent within three minutes of sensing the bee’s hum.

Here's the latest buzz:

  • Lilach Hadany and her research team studied the beach evening primrose, exposing the flowers to a variety of sound levels, ranging from silence to computer-generated sounds at various frequencies.
  • They found that the flowers increased nectar sugar concentrations when exposed to the sound of honeybees (0.2 to 0.5 kilohertz) at a distance of four inches (10 cm), as well as other low-frequency sounds (0.05 to 1 kilohertz).
  • The flowers had no response when exposed to silence, or to high and intermediate frequency sounds. The bowl-shaped primrose blooms also did not respond to vibrations when their petals were removed.
More Info: National Geographic

Discussion Comments


Why not expose these plants to sounds that would consist of sounds of bees nearby, causing increase the extra sweetness of the nectar? That would be awesome.

Post your comments
Forgot password?