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How bees find the right flowers

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Karyn Megy.

Bees use a wide array of senses to tell the difference between different types of flowers. Smells, shapes, colours, sizes and temperature can be used by bees to identify flowers. This, however, creates an interesting question as to why plants would go to the trouble of looking so different from each other, when a bee seeks the same things from a flower regardless of the flower’s species : nectar and pollen. The answer to this riddle has to do with the different evolutionary demands on bees and flowers – different demands which result in an elegant interchange between flowers and bees that creates a motivation for flowers to differentiate themselves via any means necessary. This differentiation even creates evolutionary pressures for flowers to use electric fields to differentiate themselves from bees. The bee’s electric sense represents a novel way to differentiate between flowers, creating exciting ideas for the field electrostatic biology.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Science Society series.

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