Honey-Bee Vision

A five-petaled flower with unusual patterns
“Honey-Bee Vision”, 8in x 8in, acrylic on canvas

I knew you wouldn’t mind if I paused to consider these petals.

To our eyes they seem rather bland. No bright markings or pleasing motif, nothing distinctive at all.

Why should it be otherwise? Nature designed them to attract a special kind of customer, who comes bearing pollen in trade for nectar, with eyes tuned to colors beyond our perception.

We like to think our powers of sight rank high among all creation.

We can look across a meadow at noon and see leafy details in trees. Gaze with delight at the sunset horizon as orange turns to red in the clouds. Peer into the night with tall telescopes and scrutinize alien worlds.

Yet the true artistry expressed by this flower — just an arms-length away — remains unseen to us.

Inquisitive, we collect a few specimens to inspect in a different light. This reveals an image the bee might see with its ultraviolet vision — patterns devised to entice gatherers buzzing by and guide them to the prize.

Our primate brains gain pleasure from discovering this clever invention of nature.

Perhaps in fair exchange we should grant the bee a glimpse through our telescope. It might enjoy a deeper look at the distant sky above.