False-colour photography: a novel digital approach to visualize the bee view of flowers


  • Christian Verhoeven Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf
  • Zong-Xin Ren Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming
  • Klaus Lunau Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf




The colour vision system of bees and humans differs mainly in that, contrary to humans, bees are sensitive to ultraviolet light and insensitive to red light. The synopsis of a colour picture and a UV picture is inappropriate to illustrate the bee view of flowers, since the colour picture does not exclude red light. In this study false-colour pictures in bee view are assembled from digital photos taken through a UV, a blue, and a green filter matching the spectral sensitivity of the bees’ photoreceptors. False-colour pictures demonstrate small-sized colour patterns in flowers, e.g. based on pollen grains, anthers, filamental hairs, and other tiny structures that are inaccessible to spectrophotometry. Moreover, false-colour pictures are suited to demonstrate flowers and floral parts that are conspicuous or inconspicuous to bees. False-colour pictures also direct the attention to other ranges of wavelength besides ultraviolet demonstrating for example blue and yellow bulls’ eyes in addition to UV bulls’ eyes which previously have been overlooked. False-colour photography is a robust method that can be used under field conditions, with various equipment and with simple colour editing.



How to Cite

Verhoeven, C., Ren, Z.-X., & Lunau, K. (2018). False-colour photography: a novel digital approach to visualize the bee view of flowers. Journal of Pollination Ecology, 23, 102–118. https://doi.org/10.26786/1920-7603(2018)11