What does a bee see? Hopefully a bee see’s plenty of flowers providing nectar and pollen as it is flying about. But how does a bee decide to visit one type of flower rather than another?

Firstly, bees are able to see ultra violet light (UV) which humans are unable to see. To provide an understanding of what that may look like, The Super pollinators incursion designed a UV light viewer to allow us to look at flowers under UV light.

On a recent visit to Erskineville Public School we checked out some of the flowers that were blooming in the school grounds. The beautiful red gum blossom pictured looks quite different under UV light and appears to have a glowing ring around its centre! It is a very clever trick of nature – the ring acts like a bullseye drawing the bee to the nectar laden middle. Many flowers have ‘landing strips’ or ‘bullseyes’ to help guide bees to the pollen and nectar source. It is fascinating to collect some local flowers and see them in a whole new light. The colour of flowers also looks completely different under UV light – infact red becomes black!

Bees also choose flowers based on the shape. Bees have different length tongues. Having a long straw-like tongue is perfect for sucking nectar from a long tubular flower. Teddy bear bees, carpenter bees and blue banded bees all have long tongues. Bees with short tongues choose more bowl-shaped flowers and use their tongue like a cat does when lapping milk.

So if you want to see like a bee, grab a UV torch, a few flowers and head for a dark space (without sunlight). Happy UViewing!

An interesting and informative presentation that stimulated the children’s curiosity. The construction aspect was a great move from information to real action

Abbie was a dynamic presenter and great to deal with prior to our incursion. I highly recommend the Super Pollinators for connecting kids with the local fauna

The Super Pollinators Incursion was the perfect learning experience for years 3 and 4. The content was informative and hand-on activity was very engaging and fun

The activity was a very different experience for our kids – very engaging

Stage 2 Teachers, Erskineville Public School, May 2018