Shock finding on how plants ‘talk’ to bees

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Plants use electric fields to communicate with bees, scientists have revealed.

Bumblebees are able to find and decipher weak electric signals emitted by flowers, a study explained.

Tests by a University of Bristol team revealed that bees could distinguish between different floral fields, as if they were petal colours.

The electric signals may also let the insects know if another bee has recently visited a flower.

How bees detect the fields is unknown, but the researchers suspect the electrostatic force might make their hair bristle.

A similar hair-raising effect is seen when placing one’s head close to an old-style TV screen.

Flowers were already known to use bright colours, patterns and enticing scents to attract pollinators.

Electrical signals may provide a deeper level of communication, the scientists believe.

The research is published in the latest online edition of the journal Science.