Bumblebees

Apparently, Einstein never said that humans would die out if the bumblebee became extinct. It’s helpful to assign a wise comment like this to such a respected and famously verbose scientist, though, because we know that bees do have an incredible impact on the world around them.

I think the bumblebee that I’ve found here is a worker red-tailed bumblebee. They are pretty common, despite not being the childhood image of a bumble. What I found most amazing about this bee was the eye. Like a lot of other insects, bumblebees have compound eyes, made up of hexagons.¬†Underneath the lens, there are ultra-violet sensitive, green sensitive and blue sensitive cells.

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Bumblebees also have three primitive eyes (ocelli, from the latin oculus) which are between their two ‘proper’ eyes. These help the insects to detect changes in light intensity. Lots of other insects have these too, as well as spiders.

Due to their colour receptors, bumblebees cannot see red, though they can see a colour known as ‘bee’s purple’ due to their ability to see ultra-violet. Maybe as a result, bees especially enjoy visiting blue and yellow flowers (to our eyes) but leave the red ones to hummingbirds. The most important thing is to have a variety of plants, with open flowers that bees can easily access, which flower throughout the year as much as possible. For example, lots of people know that bees adore lavender but that flowers roughly June to August only.

Bees can also differentiate between sweet, sour, bitter and salty foods. Fussy bees.

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