Pollinators: Bee's Eye and Antenna

Here is the third of the six paintings completed under a grant from the Haines & Friends Fund 2015 Artist Grants.

Bee's Eye and Antenna

Imagine you are standing on the top of the bee’s head, looking at its right eye and antenna; the other eye and antenna are behind you, out of sight.

The two large compound eyes of the honeybee are made of thousands of hexagonal faceted lenses called ommatidia.  Light reaches each lens at a different angle, and the bee’s brain combines the information from all these thousand of lenses so the bee sees a form as a mosaic of these thousands of dots. The ommatidia detect movement and are sensitive to both ultraviolet and polarized light.  By interpreting the polarized light, the bee can orient herself to the sun’s position throughout the day.  The bee also has three single-lens eyes (simple eyes) on her head that monitor light intensity.

The bee’s antennae sense what our ears, nose, tongue, and skin sense: sounds, smells, tastes, and changes in vibrations, temperature, wind and humidity. The antennae fit into sockets on the head and can swivel in all directions. The ball-shaped part of the antenna is called the pedicel and it sits in the socket, or scape.  The flagellum is the long, tubular part composed of ringed sections and is covered with tactile sensory hairs, pits, plaques and short spines.  The bee’s sense of smell is more acute than any mammal’s sense of smell.