Researchers are being offered a glimpse of how bees may see flowers in all their ultra-violet (UV) glory.
The Floral Reflectance Database (FReD) was created by researchers at Imperial College London and Queen Mary, University of London.
It enables researchers to “see” plant colours through the eyes of bees and other pollinating insects.
Bees have different colour detection systems from humans, and can see in the UV spectrum.
Details of the free database are published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.
“This research highlights that the world we see is not the physical or the ‘real’ world – different animals have very different senses, depending on the environment the animals operate in,” said Professor Lars Chittka from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.
“Much of the coloured world that’s accessible to bees and other animals with UV receptors is entirely invisible for us. In order to see that invisible part of the world, we need this special machinery.”