Behavioural ecology: bees associate warmth with floral colour

Nature. 2006 Aug 3;442(7102):525. doi: 10.1038/442525a.


Floral colour signals are used by pollinators as predictors of nutritional rewards, such as nectar. But as insect pollinators often need to invest energy to maintain their body temperature 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.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Bees / physiology*
  • Color*
  • Cues
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Flowers / physiology*
  • Food Preferences / physiology
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Pollen / physiology
  • Reward