How many eyes does a bee have: the structure and number of organs of vision, how they see colors

How many eyes does a bee have: the structure and number of organs of vision, how they see colors

Bees have an extremely complex organization of the visual system. It includes different bodies, each of which is responsible for performing specific functions. These components help insects navigate the terrain and compensate for the lack of light. At the same time, not every person knows exactly how many eyes a bee has.

Types of eyes in bees

Bees are characterized by a complex structure of the organs of vision. They have two kinds of eyes. These include complex compound eyes and more primitive simple ones. Each of the varieties is characterized by its own characteristics.

Compound eyes form elongated bulges on the sides of the head that go down. If you look at them under a microscope, you can see the hexagonal embossing on the surface. That is why the eyes are often called reticulated. If you count the number of cells in one eye, you can see that in workers it exceeds 6 thousand, and in drones - 8 thousand.

The structure of bee eyes includes as many individual eyes as there are hexagons on the surface. They are called ommatidia. Each of the eyes consists of a bundle, which includes 8-9 elongated visual cells.

They have thin borders that turn inside the beam and form a glassy axis. It is there that light stimuli are processed, which penetrate through the crystalline cone and chitinous lens. Each individual eye is capable of registering only those rays that run parallel or almost parallel to the axis.

Simple eyes are characterized by the same structure as complex ones, but they are considered more primitive. Therefore, these elements do not help insects to recognize the image. With their help, only darkness and light can be distinguished.


Worker bees have simple eyes on the crown of their head. At the same time, in drones and queens, they are located directly on the forehead. The compound eyes are best seen in drones as they close at the crown. At the same time, it is almost impossible to distinguish these elements of the organ of vision in queens and worker bees.


Regardless of the species, bees have 5 eyes:

  • 3 small dorsal eyes;
  • 2 large eyes with complex structure.

One eye of a honey bee measures about 2 millimeters. At the same time, the number of organs of vision remains the same for all individuals. Drones have the largest eyes and queens the smallest.

Why so many?

Initially, honey insects have a poorly developed visual apparatus. To compensate for not too well developed vision, bees have several organs. Due to the presence of 5 eyes, insects can navigate the terrain, receive information about flowering and perceive different objects. Large eyes make it possible to see objects and create a complete picture of the world.

The dorsal organs, called ocelli, are responsible for perception at dusk. With their help, insects learn about the approach of dawn. In the same way, they receive information about the end of the day. Ocelli serve as a partial replacement for touch. In addition, they perform additional functions in the binocular system. With the help of faceted organs, insects form a picture in the form of a mosaic. It includes individual points and allows you to achieve a holistic view of objects.

Compound eyes with a complex structure are used as the main element of the visual apparatus. In this case, simple organs of vision are considered a secondary component. They provide insects with objective data about the environment.

What the world looks like through the eyes of bees

The spectrum of color vision in the honey bee is very limited. It predominantly includes blue, yellow and green tones. At the same time, insects are not able to distinguish red from black. Therefore, at night, the bee colony can be examined with a red flashlight. This does not disturb the insects and they behave peacefully.

Features of color perception are used in apiaries when coloring beehives. They need to be covered with paint that bees can distinguish. This helps them navigate and avoid flying into other families.

Of particular importance is the coloring of the arrival board and the area near the notch. This helps the insects find their nest. In addition, do not worry that the uterus will be lost during mating. In addition to the basic shades, insects distinguish between ultraviolet rays. Honey plants are painted in colors available to bees.

There are some features in the perception of forms. Insects cannot distinguish between geometric shapes such as a circle or a rectangle. At the same time, the bees perfectly perceive stars and cruciform objects.

Bees have a complex structure of visual organs. Their structure includes two types of eyes. This helps the insects navigate the terrain and extract flower nectar.

This page in other languages: