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One of the surprising things about insects is quite how hairy they are. If you were to look at this bee under a microscope, different types of hair would be revealed at different length scales. The word for insect hair is setae, they are often hollow and can serve many functions including tactile, taste, smell and temperature sensing. A bee’s body is covered with branched setae that are used to collect pollen from flowers, making them a crucial pollinator for human agriculture.

This bumblebee was donated by the lab of neuroscientist Beau Lotto, formerly at UCL, where they have been conducting research into human and bumblebee perception for more than 25 years. Lotto's work on optical illusions has shown that humans are not the only creatures to see these illusions. Bumblebees see illusions in much the same way as we do. Lotto showed this with a science-art project called the Bee Matrix. Using colored lights, he showed that bees’ behavior can be manipulated with color information that interferes with their ability to recognize patterns in order to find nectar.

Sample ID: 482


Solid | Object
Nature's Engineers
Bee | Bumble Bee | Hair | Pollen | Scale

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