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Do Honey Bees See Color?

Honey bees do not have the same perception of colors that humans do. For example, honey bees cannot see red, perceiving it to be the same as black.

Bees that have been trained to associate food with particular card colors are able to distinguish blues, yellows, oranges and violets, but cannot tell the difference between a red card and a black card.

They are, however, able to see colors that humans cannot perceive, such as ultraviolet. Bees can also see a color known as “bee's purple” which has been described as a combination of yellow and ultraviolet. Many flowers have patterns that are only visible to insects which can see ultraviolet light.

More about bees:

  • Bees can release a pheromone after stinging that lingers in clothing. This pheromone can attract more bees if not washed away.
  • Honey bees can visit up to 2,000 flowers per day and need to visit about 2 million flowers to create one pound of honey.
  • Honey bees pollinate about $15 billion worth of crops in the United States each year.
Discussion Comments
By anon992599 — On Sep 18, 2015

Interesting question about using the color as an attractant!I immediately thought it sounded like a visually pleasant color, but the practical aspect could make it very much worth some effort to produce.

By anon992566 — On Sep 17, 2015

Is there a paint or commercial colored product (ink, paper, cloth...) that has "bees purple" in it that may be used as a bee attractant in gardens? Do all pollinating insects have the same vision? Like butterflies or mason bees (solitary bees)?

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