Eye See You



Like other insects, the honey bee has compound eyes—hundreds of single eyes (called ommatidia) arranged next to each other, each with its own lens and each looking in a different direction. This doesn't mean that the bee sees lots of little pictures, as each ommatidium sees only one intensity, contributing a 'pixel' to the overall image perceived by the compound eye, just like a single photoreceptor in the retina of our own eye. But there are differences between the bee's view of the world and ours.

The bee has fewer ommatidia than we have photoreceptors, and they are not evenly spaced. And of course the bee sees colours differently, relies more on image motion than on shapes, and much more.

Bees may not have eyes in the back of their head, but you can be sure—they see you well before you see them.—N.B.

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