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ScienceShot: Bumblebees Have the Fastest Color Vision Around

How does a bumblebee (Bombus terrestris dalmatinus), zooming among the frothy blooms of a cherry tree, manage to zip so quickly from one flower to the next? They see five times faster than humans, which gives them the fastest color vision of all animals, according to a new study in the 17 March issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The speed with which an animal sees depends on how quickly the light-detecting cells in its eye can capture snapshots of the world and send them to their brain, the authors report. And, according to data recorded from electrodes implanted in the retinal cells of cold-anaesthetized bumblebees, bees do this much faster than anyone else. The bees' speedy vision enables them to quickly navigate in dappled light, to recognize shapes, such as the entrance to their hive, and particularly to find nectar-bearing, colored flowers.