How Do Honey Bees See the World?

It’s hard to imagine seeing the world through different eyes. As bees buzz about their lives, they see different colors, light, and details than the human gaze can. This unique vision helps them find nectar-rich flowers and navigate the world around their hive. If you’ve ever wondered how honey bees see the world, check out this guide for the answer.

They Have Five Eyes

Bees have five eyes: three smaller ocelli and two larger compound eyes. The ocelli sit in the center of the top of the bee’s head. These ocelli have single lenses that measure light intensity, helping the bee orient itself as it navigates the world. The compound eyes, which sit on either side of the bee’s head, are made of thousands of tiny lenses. Each of these lenses, known as facets, take in a small part of the bee’s vision, which the brain then combines to make a full picture.

They Have Unique Color Vision

Like humans, bees are trichromatic. They have three photoreceptors in their eyes, which means their color vision is based on the three colors those photoreceptors can read. Unlike humans—whose color vision is based on red, blue, and green—bees’ color vision is based on blue, green, and ultraviolet light. While bees can’t see the color red, they can see UV light that’s invisible to the human eye.

How Honey Bees Use Their Vision

How honey bees see the world is the secret to their hard work and success. Ultraviolet light reveals patterns on certain flower petals. Humans can’t see these patterns, but bees use them as a sort of landing strip to find nectar-rich flowers. This also means that bees are better at finding specific types of flowers—even in a field of similar shapes and colors. They’re able to see far more unique details on flowers than we can.

Like many animals, honey bees are designed for a specific role in nature. You can learn more about bees’ fascinating lives and their wonderful impact on our environment as well as how to procure your own starter beehives by visiting Mann Lake. We have everything a budding bee enthusiast needs.