Fifty shades of green: can bees detect the difference?
Daniel Robert, Professor of Bionanoscience, The Bristol Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information, University of Bristol
Bumblebee on flower

We have recently discovered that bumble bees can detect floral electric fields, and that they learn their presence and structure to inform foraging decisions. By training bumble bees to distinguish between experimental feeding stations (simulating flowers) that are at different electrostatic potentials we learnt that flowers are surrounded by weak electrostatic fields arising from interaction with the natural atmospheric potential gradient, and that bees can detect the presence of these fields.

The electrostatic potential of flowers changes as a bee approaches and visits the flower, thus bees can learn differences in the magnitude and structure of floral electrostatic fields. Remarkably, further experiments demonstrated that bees learn more readily the difference between two shades of green when electrostatic fields are present. This discovery leads to the conclusion that weak electrostatic potentials constitute a previously unsuspected form of information that plays a role in the complex interaction between plants and their pollinators.



Tue 09 Jul 2024


2:30pm - 4:00pm
Bridges Centre, Drybridge Park, Monmouth NP25 5AS
Cherry Lewis

Accessibility at Bridges Centre

Members’ monthly meetings are held at Bridges Community Centre, Drybridge Park. Some group meetings and activities also take place at Bridges. Off street parking is available here outside the building, and disabled parking is adjacent to the building entrance. There are no external steps or slopes, and the entrance doors are automatic. The ground floor is fully accessible and level throughout, and there is space for wheelchairs. There is a lift to the first floor, and accessible toilets on both floors. There is a hearing induction system in the Agincourt room where the monthly meetings are held.

Accessibility at Ty Price

Some group activities and meetings are held at Ty Price, St Thomas Community Hall, St Thomas’s Square. There is no off street parking here. The approach on foot is a gentle slope to double entrance doors. The ground floor of the building is fully accessible and there is a disabled toilet. The stairs to the first floor are wide and well-lit with a handrail on both sides, but there is no lift. There is a hearing induction system on the ground floor.