Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bees see world 5 times quicker than humans

Bees see the world almost five times quicker than humans, says new research.

This gives bumblebees the fastest colour vision of all animals, allowing them to easily find the way shady bushes to find food, says Peter Skorupski and Lars Chittka from the University of London. The ability to see at high speed is common in fast-flying insects allowing them to flee predators and catch their mates’ mid-air.

However, until now it wasn't known whether the bees' full colour vision was able to keep up with their high speed flight. This research sheds new light on the substance suggesting that although slower, it is also about twice as fast as human vision.

Skorupski says: "We can't easily follow a fast flying insect by eye, but they can follow each other, thanks to their very fast vision."

"How fast you can see depends on how quickly the light-detecting cells in your eye can capture snapshots of the world and send them to your brain. Most flying insects can see much quicker than humans, for example so they can avoid getting swatted!" said Skorupski.

Bumblebees use their advanced colour vision in many ways. Skorupski explains: "Bees were the first animals that scientists proved to have colour vision, and they have since been shown to put it to good use; navigating dappled light and shady areas, recognising shapes like their hive entrance, and particularly for finding nectar-bearing coloured flowers."

The experiments show that the bees burn more energy to see in colour than they would to see in monochrome (black and white), raising questions about how they make the most of it.