I Got a Hair in My Eye
And the cap today said, “Honeybees have hair on their eyes.” Surprised? I was, so I looked it up and found a source on Google that had this to say.
After all, I was looking for the reason why bees had hair on their eyes. It certainly could have nothing to do with pollen collection, right? The little ladies would not be able to see for their flight back to the hive. Even if you do possess five eyes, gotta be on the lookout for what might make you its dinner after all. So let us see what the author of the article wrote as an explanation and see in if 1904 he was right.
“In my work on Compound eyes I noticed that the entire eye is covered by unbranching hairs; and in trying to find some use for these I was entirely at sea until I noticed that, although the young bees have their eyes well covered, the field bees have almost every hair removed.”
Notice this shot clearly shows the three simple eyes also.
“It occurred to me that possibly there is some division of labor which we find.”
“It has been shown that a young bee can get along without sight, since none of its actions require acute vision, and the presence of these hairs indicates that it is probably nearly blind.”
“Can we not, then, explain the confinement of the young bees to inside duties of the hive by the fact it cannot do anything else?”
The writer goes on to speculate, “There maybe some other structural difference between young and old bees; but it seems to me that these small hairs must be of great importance to the colony in compelling the bees to do the different kinds of work.”
“Old bees can build comb and feed larvae, but do so only when it is absolutely necessary; but a young bee can do nothing else.”
From a periodical called Gleanings in Bee Culture. Volume XXXIII, January 1, 1904 from the A.I. Root Company, Medina, Ohio.
Now I know why all my bees appear to have shiny, hair free eyes, or do I? I did search to find out if all bees have hair on their eyes, and it was shown to occur in bees other than honeybees, but I could not find if all bees experience this.
So this led me to the question of the quality of microscope that they had back in the early 1900’s. It appears that they did have decent optical microscopes up to about 1500x, but did not develop an electron microscope until 1931, or the scanning electron microscope until 1935. So I am guessing the author to the article had a pretty good view, much better than my camera images.
I did learn much more about bee eyes that I found intriguing. Those hairs are called setae and they are all over every insect, and is like a skin to help the insect feel their environment. This may have answered the question of every bee having hair on the eyes.
And how many eye facets? There are thousands of facets per eye, possibly three to five thousand or more individual ommatidia in one compound eye. So any wonder why catching flies and bees is difficult?
I have to admit to not having extreme closeups of honeybees. I am allergic to bees and I am more willing to get close to the Carpenter bees because I will be very unlikely to get stung. Males can not sting and females do it so very rarely. I love learning about bees but do wish they were not bad for my health.
I have lots of photos of many varieties of bees, but none as close or from an appropriate angle to see the eyes as you have seen here with the Carpenter Bees. These bees do appear to have hair around the eyes, but no hair on the eyes that can be seen at this magnification. I guess the writer from 1904 was a keeper and/or scientist and examined his bees very closely. He was doing a study on compound eyes, that is why I am guessing. I could have purchased the book to find out.
Next post is Word 4 Wednesday on November 16th. Your word this week is Texture and Pattern. Find some texture and pattern in those GBBD and Foliage Follow-Up posts and join in here too. Not too hard to find texture and pattern in garden plants or landscapes.