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Flower colors said biggest bee draw

Feb. 21, 2013 at 3:50 PM   |   Comments

CAMBRIDGE, England, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Flower colors that contrast with their background are more important to foraging bees than spots or stripes on petals, British researchers say.

Heather Whitney from the University of Cambridge and colleagues report that while patterns of color veins give bumblebees clues to the location of the nectar within a flower, there is little evidence bees have an innate preference for striped flowers.

Writing in the journal Naturwissenschaften -- The Science of Nature, the researchers said they observed whether bees could distinguish between solid-color and veined flowers, and which type of flower bees preferred when they were looking for nectar.

They found solid colors, especially light colors that contrasted strongly with the flowers' background, proved more popular with the bees.

"Venation patterns might be prevalent in nature because they can be useful nectar guides, particularly when they also increase flower visibility," the researchers wrote. "But it appears that the color contrast of a flower with its background has a greater influence on bee preference."

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