Which Characteristic is Most Influential in Attracting Bees to a Flower: Fragrance, Color, or Flavor
Note: Protective clothing should be worn and caution exercised when approaching the beehive.
To determine the fragrance, color, and flavor that are most attractive to bees. Then, to determine which of these three characteristics plays the most important role in attracting bees.
- 6 pieces of poster board
- 9 assorted types of flowers
- food processor
- colored construction paper (9 different shades are necessary: white, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, light pink, and hot pink)
- sugar, lemon juice, salt, and chokecherries (or a food with a similarly bitter taste)
- protective clothing
The fragrance, color, and flavor variables will be isolated to identify the one that bees tend to go to first. For the fragrance test, several flowers that bees are known to pollinate will be pulverized individually in a food processor and strained through cheesecloth to collect the residue. The residue will then be streaked into separate circles on a poster board. For the color test, circles will be cut out of nine different shades of paper and glued onto another piece of poster board. For the flavor test, various flavors will be smeared over another poster board surface. Then, combinations of the three variables will be made. The bees' reactions and selections will be recorded.
- Draw nine 5-inch (12.7-cm) -diameter circles on one of the poster boards. Be sure to space them evenly on the board.
- Obtain nine types of flowers and cut them from their stems. Pulverize them individually in a food processor. Then strain each pulverized flower through cheesecloth into the cup. With a brush, spread the residue from each flower in a separate circle on the poster board. Be sure to label the type of flower each smear came from.
- Cut a 5-inch (12.7-cm) -diameter circle out of each sheet of construction paper. Space them randomly and evenly on another piece of poster board and glue them in place.
- Take samples of the four basic food tastes (sweet, sour, salty, and bitter) from the sugar, lemon juice, salt, and chokecherries, and spread them separately on the third poster board. Be sure to label them.
- For the remaining three poster boards, create the following combinations of characteristics: place each flower fragrance on a separate colored circle, place each flavor on a separate colored circle, and finally, mix the flavors with the various flower fragrances. Be sure to label them.
- Begin your experiment with the first poster board of fragrances. Place the board approximately six feet (two meters) in front of the beehive and stand several feet further away. Note the fragrance to which the bees are consistently attracted. Remove the board and replace it with the board that contains only colors. Again, stand several feet away and see what color most attracts the bees. Do the same with the flavor board to see which flavor the bees are drawn to. Record your observations.
- Verify your results by trying the combination boards. For example, if the bees in step 6 favored the color violet, a sweet flavor, and the fragrance of lilacs, see if those results hold true when the violet circle is covered with either the sugar or lilac residue.
- Test to see which of the three characteristics is the most influential in attracting the bees by placing all three poster boards from step 6 side by side in front of the hive. Note the board that most consistently attracts the bees.
- Were all the bees consistent in their preferences?
- What fragrance, color, and flavor seemed to most attract the bees?
- Did the bees tend to favor the same fragrance when it was combined with different colors and flavors? Did the same hold true for the color and flavor variables?
- Which single characteristic appeared to be the most influential in attracting bees?
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.