Be it mallow, foxglove, or forget-me-not: many flowers bear colorful patterns, which are known as nectar guides in biology. They are assumed to show the pollinating insects the shortest way to the nectary. This guiding function could increase the efficiency of the insects in their search for food, and at the same time improve the pollen dispersal of the plant. A team from the Biocentre of Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU) in Bavaria, Germany, has now deciphered the individual steps through which flower patterns increase the efficiency of terrestrial bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) for the first time. They demonstrate that nectar guides reduce the time needed for the bee’s entire interaction with a flower by up to 30 percent--from approach to finding the nectar to departure.
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