Light Up Lockdown with Ultraviolet

Nectar Guides are sometime visible as colourful patterns, lines or spots on flower petals they guide a pollinator into the part of the flower where the nectar can be found. Looking closely at some of our Brendel Plant Models, which have been in our natural history collection for over 100 years, allows a closer inspection of Nectar Guides.

Viola model showing bold line honey guides.

Flowers with more complex arrangements  of petals have resulted in more intricate arrays of honey guides like the following examples:

The patterns may or may not always be visible to humans. In some flowers, such as Marsh Marigolds the whole flower head reflects ultraviolet (uv) —a colour particularly attractive to bees and remains completely undetected by us. Ultraviolet is sometimes called “bee violet”. If you view these flowers under ultraviolet light, you will be able to see the pattern and colour that a bee would see.

These patterns and adaptations have evolved over millions of years to help the plant by assuring good pollination by insects. In return insects get their sweet nectar reward!

Pea flower showing faint line honey guides