Plants compete with one another: They all want to be pollinated, as only then can they reproduce. The bee’s senses are adapted to signals that are emitted by flowers. On the one hand by their colour and on the other by their scent. Bees can see colours. They prefer to fly to-wards the colours yellow and blue. They cannot see red. For example, they only see the poppy as a dark spot. However, bees can see ultraviolet light, and the flowering plants “know” this. They have pigments that reflect ultraviolet light. This means the bees know where the nectar sources are and therefore the optimum places to land. It is fascinating that bees can only see colours at a maximum flight speed of 5 km/h. At higher speeds they see their environment in black and white.
Bees smell with their antennae. Thanks to the mobility of the antennae, they can also smell spatially, enabling them to tell which direction the smell is coming from, so they can head straight for the flowering plant, pollenate it and collect the nectar.
The bees suck up the nectar, the basis for honey, using their proboscis and store it in their honey stomach. Pollen, which contains a lot of protein and is primarily used to rear the brood, is picked up by the bees almost as they fly past. It sticks to the hairs on the bees, and when they visit the next plant of the same species it is transferred in adequate quantities to their stigma.
This is how the male pollen grain unites with the female egg cell to mature into seeds in the flower. This is the basic process of pollination, and the continuation of the plant’s existence is guaranteed. Meanwhile, the majority of the pollen grains stay on the back legs of the bees like “pants” and are taken to the hive as valuable food.
A bee visits around 100 flowers per foraging flight, with a maximum speed of up to 30 kilometres per hour. With ten foraging flights per day, this equates to 1,000 flowers. With a maximum of 40 flights per day, however, considerably more is possible. If 20,000 bees swarm out of a hive several times a day, 20 million flowers or more are pollinated each day.
When the bee finds a rich source of food, it shares this information with its fellow bees. Various dances (round and waggle dance) are the first step in successful recruitment.
Bees are loyal to flowers. They remain faithful to a productive plant species until it stops flowering. Bees are also loyal to locations. They recruit other bees in their community to fly to the chosen food sources using their dances and other assistance in the field. This continuity has enormous advantages, as it ensures that pollen is deposited within the same plant species and that the sequence of flowering in a region is utilised to optimum effect. This also simplifies or guides the work of the beekeeper. He or she can change the location of the hives depending on the flowers available so that the bees always find the best conditions and create honey from as few flower sources as possible.