Advanced

Nocturnal bees learn landmark colours in starlight.

Somanathan, Hema LU ; Borges, Renee Maria; Warrant, Eric LU and Kelber, Almut LU (2008) In Current Biology 18(21). p.996-997
Abstract
Honeybees, like humans and most other vertebrates, are colour-blind in dim light. Bees are primarily day-active and have apposition compound eyes, the typical eye design of diurnal insects. Most bees are trichromats with photoreceptors sensitive in the UV, blue and green [1]. While their diurnal colour vision was established almost 100 years ago, honeybees are known to be colour-blind in moonlight [2]. Here, we present the first evidence that the only known obligately nocturnal bee, the Indian carpenter bee Xylocopa tranquebarica (Fabricius), which flies even on moonless nights [3], uses colour vision to discriminate artificial landmarks at the nest in starlight. Humans, in contrast, are colour-blind at half-moon illumination. This... (More)
Honeybees, like humans and most other vertebrates, are colour-blind in dim light. Bees are primarily day-active and have apposition compound eyes, the typical eye design of diurnal insects. Most bees are trichromats with photoreceptors sensitive in the UV, blue and green [1]. While their diurnal colour vision was established almost 100 years ago, honeybees are known to be colour-blind in moonlight [2]. Here, we present the first evidence that the only known obligately nocturnal bee, the Indian carpenter bee Xylocopa tranquebarica (Fabricius), which flies even on moonless nights [3], uses colour vision to discriminate artificial landmarks at the nest in starlight. Humans, in contrast, are colour-blind at half-moon illumination. This finding, obtained using natural nests under natural illumination, is remarkable because insensitive apposition eyes were thought unable to support nocturnal colour vision. Hitherto, nocturnal colour vision was known only in nocturnal hawkmoths [4] and geckos [5], animals with eyes well adapted to nocturnality. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Current Biology
volume
18
issue
21
pages
996 - 997
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • wos:000260932700011
  • scopus:55249101309
ISSN
1879-0445
DOI
10.1016/j.cub.2008.08.023
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
c683b028-4a11-4698-aa7e-6232c5b8b79d (old id 1271611)
date added to LUP
2009-02-02 12:23:06
date last changed
2017-02-26 03:29:11
@article{c683b028-4a11-4698-aa7e-6232c5b8b79d,
  abstract     = {Honeybees, like humans and most other vertebrates, are colour-blind in dim light. Bees are primarily day-active and have apposition compound eyes, the typical eye design of diurnal insects. Most bees are trichromats with photoreceptors sensitive in the UV, blue and green [1]. While their diurnal colour vision was established almost 100 years ago, honeybees are known to be colour-blind in moonlight [2]. Here, we present the first evidence that the only known obligately nocturnal bee, the Indian carpenter bee Xylocopa tranquebarica (Fabricius), which flies even on moonless nights [3], uses colour vision to discriminate artificial landmarks at the nest in starlight. Humans, in contrast, are colour-blind at half-moon illumination. This finding, obtained using natural nests under natural illumination, is remarkable because insensitive apposition eyes were thought unable to support nocturnal colour vision. Hitherto, nocturnal colour vision was known only in nocturnal hawkmoths [4] and geckos [5], animals with eyes well adapted to nocturnality.},
  author       = {Somanathan, Hema and Borges, Renee Maria and Warrant, Eric and Kelber, Almut},
  issn         = {1879-0445},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {21},
  pages        = {996--997},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Current Biology},
  title        = {Nocturnal bees learn landmark colours in starlight.},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2008.08.023},
  volume       = {18},
  year         = {2008},
}