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Behavioural ecology: Bees associate warmth with floral colour

Behavioural ecology: Bees associate warmth with floral colour

Dyer, Adrian G., Whitney, Heather M., Arnold, Sarah E.J. ORCID: 0000-0001-7345-0529, Glover, Beverley J. and Chittka, Lars (2006) Behavioural ecology: Bees associate warmth with floral colour. Nature: international weekly journal of science, 442 (7102). p. 525. ISSN 0028-0836 (Print), 1476-4687 (Online) (doi:

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Floral colour signals are used by pollinators as predictors of nutritional rewards, such as nectar (notes 1,2,3). But as insect pollinators often need to invest energy to maintain their body temperature (note 4) above the ambient temperature, floral heat might also be perceived as a reward. Here we show that bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) prefer to visit warmer flowers and that they can learn to use colour to predict floral temperature before landing. In what could be a widespread floral adaptation, plants may modulate their temperature to encourage pollinators to visit.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: [1] Published online 2 August 2006. [2] In: Brief Communications. [3] Supplementary information accompanies this communication on Nature’s website -
Uncontrolled Keywords: bumblebees, heat, flower colour, thermal reward, conical cells, associative learning, insect cognition
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
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Last Modified: 28 Oct 2016 15:24

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