Did you know that a honey bee has 5 eyes? These five unique eyes empower them to have the fastest color vision in the Animal Kingdom. In order for them to produce honey, bees have to forage for nectar. Their powerful color vision which is 5 times faster than ours makes it easier for them to harvest nectar from flowering plants even as the wind blows the flowers back and forth in the air. Honey bees have the ability to distinguish different species of flowers effortlessly.
The five eyes are divided into two categories namely;
- Two compound Eyes
Bees have two large compound eyes like many insects. Each compound eye consists of thousands of tiny lenses known as facets. The exciting part is that each of these tiny lenses plays important parts in a honey bee’s vision. Each facet sends its own signal to the bee’s brain for interpretation. Drones and workers have a total of 8,600 and 6,900 facets respectively interestingly, every single facet is connected to its own tiny tube which has a total of eight cells. Each of these cells responds to light differently. Four are structured to respond to yellow-green light,2 to blue light and one to ultraviolet light. Each compound eye consists of 150 groups of facets referred to as ommatidia.All these things allow bees to have the fastest color vision even when flying fast. Bees can use their two compound eyes to distinguish polarization patterns within its habitat. Their two amazing compound eyes allow them to find their way home without depending on the sun.
- Simple Eyes/Ocelli
Every honey bee has three extra eyes known as ocelli or simple eyes. These eyes are positioned at the upper part of their head. Amazingly, these eyes are designed to form a unique triangular pattern. While compound eyes are big, simple eyes are relatively tiny. Each of the three eyes consists of single lenses which are meant for easy navigation using sunlight, and for stability. The ocelli play a vital role in enabling honey bees to detect ultra-violet light and colors. While simple eyes are not designed for images vision, honey bees use them to interpret polarization patterns in the sky. They also enable them to detect ultraviolet light effectively. Despite their tiny nature, these eyes are highly effective in sending signals when danger looms nearby allowing honey bees to escape from their predators swiftly.
Bees have amazing vision that is completely different than ours. These bees are highly capable pollinators that help us farm more food for our growing populations.