How Bees See Their World?

发布时间:2011-07-29 11:49    文章来源:湖北天马养蜂场    浏览量:32767 次    【字体大小:正常 偏大 最大

Haveyoueverwonderedwhatthenaturalworldofmeadows,flowers,grassandtreesmustlooklikeseenthroughthefacetedcompoundeyesofahoneybeeorabumblebee?Dotheyseeincolor?Ifso,whatcolorsdotheyseeandaretheydifferentfromtheportionsofthespectrumthathumaneyesaretunedinon?Dotheyperceivemotionthesameaswedo?Cantheyseecolorsorperceivevisualattributesofobjectstowhichweareblind?

If,likeme,youhaveoftenwonderedwhatitwouldliketobea"beeforaday"orjustforafewminutes,then,thisshortnarrativemaybegintoanswersomeoftheseintriguingquestionsforyou.So,comejoinwithusatTheBeeWorksandexperiencethealienvisionsensoryworldofhoneybees.Let'stakethatimaginaryjourneynowandpretendtoseetheworldthroughtheuniqueeyesofabeeforjustafewminutes...

Workerhoneybeeshaveeyesthataredividedupintotwogreatellipsesonoppositesidesoftheirhead.Eachcompoundeyeismadeupofabout6,900individualunits/facetspackedtightlytogetherashexagonsandknownasommatidia.Eachommatidiumisabletocapturelightraysfromasmallangleofview.Theseraysarefocusedbyseverallensesontolightsensitivepigment.Oncestimulated,thesesensorycellspassalongnervousimpulsescodinginformationonthequalityofthelight(itswavelength=visiblecolorandplaneofpolarization)totheopticnerveswhicheventuallyreachtheopticlobesofthehoneybees'brain.

Howmanyeyesdoyouthinkabeehas?Twoyousay?No,actually,beeshavefiveeyesinall.No,thisisn'tatrickquestion.Ontopoftheirheadarethreesimpleeyes,knownasocelli,arrangedinatriangularpattern.Thesesimpleeyeswithasinglelensarebestforinformingthebeeofchangesinlightintensity.Theseocellihelpthemnavigatearoundflowersandgettingtoandfromthenestatdawnanddusk.

Honeybeesarealsoextremelysensitivetorapidmovements.Thishasbeencalledtheirflickerfusionpotential.Toabeeflyingat15mphlowoverafloweringmeadow,theflowersmusttwinkleonandofflikestarsinthenightsky.Theanalogyisoftenmadethatifyouputabeeinatheater,themovingfilm(goingbyatamere16or24framespersecond)wouldbeseenasdistinctstillimagesbythebees.Youwouldhavetogreatlyspeedupthatsamefilmtoachievethemotioneffectforabeemoviegoer.Theyalsohaveotherseeminglymysteriousandcertainalienvisualabilitiesbeyondourown.Forexample,beescandetecttheplaneofpolarizationoflightinthesky.Thisallowsthemtodetectthepositionofthesunevenonanovercasedaywhenthereisonlyapatchofblueinthesky.Thatway,theycanfindtheirwaytoandfromvariouspatchesofflowersandreturnbackhomesafelywithoutgettinglost.

Thecolorsenseofhoneybees(andotherbees)wasonlyguessedaboutuntilthiscentury.BiologistssinceC.K.Sprengel(1793)hadlongbelievedthatflowersacquiredtheircolorsas"livingbillboards"toadvertisetheirpresencetopasserbyinsectswhowould,inturn,movetheirpollengrainsfromflowertoflower--resultinginfruitandseedsetforthefloweringplants.Sprengelevencalledthemarkingsonsomecolorfulflowers"saftmale"(inGerman),sapsignsinEnglishtonotethattheywerelandingandorientationguidesforflower-visitinginsects.Bybeingcolorful,theythought,itwouldbeeasierforfloralinsectvisitorstoseethesmallflowerssetagainstthegreenorbrownbackdropofmostenvironments.Ifbeesandotherinsectscouldseeandfindthemeasily,thatwouldallowthemtomoveamongsttheblossomsfasterthusincreasingtheirefficiencyaspollinators.

Infact,honeybeeswerethoughttobecolorblinduntilthepioneeringexperimentalresearchofthelateDr.KarlvonFrischinGermanyduringthetheearlypartofthiscentury.Heprovedthattheydoinfacthavethreecolor(trichromatic)visioninmanyrespectslikeourownvisualsystem.KarlvonFrischwasabletodemonstratethatbeeshadcolorvisionbytrainingthemtoalittledishofscentedsugarwater(theirsweetreward)setuponabluesquareofpaper.Byrandomlyplacingthisbluesquareinabig"checkerboard"ofgraysquares,hecouldtellthatthebeesactuallysawandrecognized/learnedwherethebluesquarewaspositioned.Theyweren'tjustrelyingupontherelativeintensityofthesquares.Thistrainingtechniquehasbecomethestandardformanybeebehavioralexperimentsuptothepresentday.

Althoughbothhoneybeesandpeoplehaveavisualsystembaseduponthree-colors,thelimitsofthiscolorsensitivityareverydifferent.PeoplecannotseeveryfarintotheVioletorUltravioletregionoftheelectromagneticvisualspectrum.Weareessentiallyblindtowavelengthsoflightbelow400nanometers/millimicrons(lightinthisregionsiscalledUV-AandUV-Blight).Thesearethepowerfullightrayswhichcauseustotanorsunburn.Beescanseetheseinvisible-to-usraysoflight!Anotherinterestingdifferencehappensattheoppositeendofthevisiblespectrum.Wecaneasilyseethecolorofaredsweaterorredfireengine(atleastmanyofthemusedtobered!).Toahoneybee,however,thecolorredisinvisible.Theyseeredobjectsasblack,ortheabsenceofcolor.Sharethiswithyourfriendsatschool,yourteachersandparents.Didtheyknowthatbeesarenotcolorblindandthattheycansee"secret"colorsthatwecannot?

 

Inthephotographtotheleftweseeanarrayofflowersastheyappeartopeoplewhomightbeadmiringtheminadisplaycasewithinafloristshop.Noticethattheyoccurinmanydifferentshapesandsizeswithvarioussubtlecolormarkingsontheirpetals.Thecolorsofflowersaresaidbyphysiciststobehighlysaturated.Thatmakesthemverynoticeablewhencomparedtootherless-saturatedcoloredobjectsinthenaturalenvironment.*ThesemagnificientphotographsappearycourtesyofDr.RandolfMenzel(Berlin,Germany).SeethereferencetothepublicationwheretheyappearbelowintheSuggestedReadingssection.

Thecollectionof10photographstotherightshowwhatthesameflowerswouldlookliketoapassinghoneybee.Noticethatthephotosaredarkblue/black.Theseweretakenbyusingaspecialultraviolet-transmittingfilterdescribedbelow.Althoughwedon'treallyknowexactlyhowthebeeseyesseethepatterns(andtheirbrainsinterprettheseneurosignals)wedoknowthatthesehiddenUVcolorsdostimulatethebeesvisionandtellthemwheretofindthefloralrewards(nectarandpollen)insidetheflowers.

Toseethesesameflowersasabeewould,wesimplyplaceavisiblelight-blockingfilteroverthecameralens(orVHScamcorder).Thisdark,almostblack,UVfilteronlyallowsultravioletlettopassthrough.Thisistheoppositefilterfroma"skylightorhaze"filterthatmanyamateurphotographersknowabout.WatchforanupcommingissueofGEARSinwhichwe'lltellyouhowtotakeyourownphotographsofhiddenUVfloralpatternsoncertainflowersandbutterfliesforlessthan$50.NoticeintheaboveUVphotographthattheflowerslookentirelydifferent.Manyflowerslookdark(allUVabsorbing)whenviewedunderultravioletlightasabeewouldseethem.Others(likesomesunflowersorblack-eyedSusans)haveacharacteristiccentralUV-absorbingbullseyepattern.Suchflowersappearaswhattheinsectphysiologistshavetermedbeepurple(thecombinationofyellow+UV).TheoutermostpartofthesunflowerraypetalsreflectyellowlightplusUVgivingthemthisbees'purplecolor.Wedon'tknowexactlywhatthaycolormightlookliketoahungryhoneybeeforager.ThecentralportionabsorbsUVsowouldsimplybewhatevercolor(brownish)istherealone.

Thereismuchmoretothestoryofhowbeeeyesworkandhowtheyperceivethecolorfulandvariednaturalandmanmadeworldaroundthem.Gotoyourlocalschoolorpubliclibraryandcheckoutabookonhoneybees.Trytodiscoverforyourselfsomeofthefascinatingthingsthatbeebiologists,entomologistsandbotanistshavefoundaboutthesecretlifeofthebeesandtheirworld.

SuggestedReadings--

⑴Frisch,Karlvon.1971.Bees:TheirVision,ChemicalSenses,andLanguage.RevisedEdition.CornellUniversityPress,Ithaca,NewYork,157pages.*Easytoreadandunderstandaccountforanyone.更多养蜂技术和蜂产品知识请关注湖北天马养蜂场官方微信公众号:"honeymarket",或者加QQ号2969169050,欢迎投稿和交流讨论蜜蜂文化。

⑵Menzel,Randolf.1990.ColorVisioninFlowerVisitingInsects.InstitutFurNeurobiologieDerFreienUniversitatBerlin,pages3-16.Prof.Dr.RandolfMenzel,InstitutfurNeurobiologiederFreienUniversitatBerline,Konigin-Luise-StraBe28-30,1,000Berlin33,RepublicofGermany.*Technicalarticle,maybedifficultforstudentslessthanHighSchoolorCollege/Universityage.

⑶Menzel,R.andBackhaus,W.1990.Colorvisionininsects:In:VisionandVisualdysfunctionVol.6(Ed.P.Gouras),chapter15,MacMillanPress,Houndsville.*Again,atechnicalarticle,thisonebestsuitedforcollege-agedstudents.

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