What Colors Do Bees Like? (Explained)

You might have noticed bees are more drawn to certain types of flowering plants in your garden and you might have wondered why that.

Aside from the scent and shape of a flower, the color of a flower is an important determinant of whether a bee will visit that flower to pollinate it or not. 

Bees might not have the best visual acuity in the world but when it comes to color differentiation they are superheroes.

Bees like some specific colors over others and some of them include blue, purple, violet, green etc. In fact bees are more attracted to flowers in the blue-violet range of colors.

If you wish for bees to pollinate more flowers in your garden, then you will have to plant flowers that have attractive colors and which have abundant nectar for them to forage from.

This article will explain the way bees see, their attraction to flowers, their favorite colors and the colors they are least attracted to.

What Colors Do Bees Like?

What Colors Do Bees Like

A bee’s compound eyes enable it to see colors in the ultraviolet vision.

As such, colors which are invisible to the human eye are well laid out for bees and with this incredible vision the bees are able to pick the plants it would pollinate.

Just like humans who see colors in blue, green and red hues, the bees are also trichromatic; however they perceive colors as blue, green and ultraviolet instead of red.

This means that they see the colors in flowers differently than we do, and as such when foraging they search for ultraviolet(UV) patterns on a flower before settling on it.

The way bees see colors is a fascinating subject that has been studied by researchers over time and how this affects their foraging behavior and activity.

As such it has been discovered that bees have colors that they like and as such are more likely to visit in a field of flowers. 

Most colors bees like fall within the blue-violet spectrum and they include:

  • Blue
  • Green
  • Yellow
  • White
  • Orange
  • Purple
  • Violet

Bees like these brighter colors because they can easily perceive them and are easily attracted to them.  

Related: Here is an article I wrote on can bees drink soda?

Do Bees Have A Favorite Color?

Humans are not the only ones that have a color they are most attracted too. Bees also do. Yes you heard right. Bees have a favorite color.

Bee’s favorite color is the color purple. They are more attracted to purple colored flowers more than any other flower. 

This is so as most purple flowers usually have a higher percent of nectar than other flowers.

This helps the bees because the more nectar they gather, the higher their chances of survival. 

A recent study by scientists in Germany which involved 9 separate bumblebee colonies discovered that the bumblebees who frequented purple colored flowers had more success in their foraging activities and were able to gather more nectar.

Bees have over time developed themselves to find the nectar filled purple plants to forage for more food.

What Colors Do Bees Stay Away From?

Bees have been known to avoid darker colors such as black and red. This is because for bees, black means the absence of color and so they are most likely not able to perceive it. 

Most predators of bees such as bears and skunks usually have black or darker colors and bees have learnt that over time so they tend to avoid such colors.

Most dark colored plants are pollinated by moths and bats and they usually bloom in the night as such bees do not interact with them. 

Red is another color bees stay away from mainly because they do not have a receptor for it in their eyes. As such they can not perceive or recognize the color.

Surprisingly bees can see colors that have reddish hues such as orange.

If you want to prevent bees from visiting your garden, planting red plants such as tulips, daylilies and red marigolds are an excellent way to achieve that.

What Color Flowers Do Bees Not Like?

Bees are not attracted to flowers that have darker and red colors because they cannot perceive.

They usually just fly over them while searching for bright colored flowers to land in and find nectar.

Bees are not attracted to trees and plants such as brch, oak, elm and sedges. These plants, though beautiful and ornamental in nature, do not attract bees because they do not like them.

Red geraniums are particularly helpful if you want to repel bees because aside from the fact that the bees cannot see them, they have a repelling scent which the bees don’t like and contain little to no pollen that can interest the bee.

The flowers of the mint, rosemary, cinnamon and cucumber plants will also not attract bees as the smell of the plant is repelling them and they tend to stay away from them.

Are Bees Attracted To Yellow Or Orange?

Yellow flowers are a favorite of bees aside from purple colored flowers. A field of sunflowers would most likely be regularly visited by bees in search of nectar.

Bees pinpoint flowers they would visit by searching for the UV markers in those flowers and research has shown that over time some flowers have adapted to reflect these patterns.

These patterns are known as nectar guides or honey guides and help the bee decide which flowers are more rich in nectar.

If you want a bright colored garden that will also attract bees you can plant zinnias, wallflowers, sunflowers to mention a few.

What Colors Are Bees Least Attracted To?

The closer a color is to black, the less attracted a bee is to it. Bees avoid flowers and animals that have dark colors.

They do not see black as a color and as such greyish colors do not form an attraction for them.

However they might act defensive when a person is wearing black because bears and skunks which are bee predators usually have dark colors.

If you want to avoid being mistaken as a threat and attacked by a bee colony, dress in gray and other dark colors but not black.

The bees will most likely not have an interest in you as long as you do not go near their territory.

Also avoid wearing bright colors around them as they can mistake you for a flower and come flying around you to see if you are a flower. 

Do Bees Like The Color Pink?

Bees like and visit pink colored flowers because it falls within their ultraviolet vision.

Bees regularly visit pinkish flowers as they are bright enough and contain nectar that will attract the bees to visit and pollinate them.

Some pink colored flowers popular with bees and which you can plant in your gardens to attract bees include the crab apple tree, lungwort, hardy geranium, foxglove and ice plant. 

These flowers have a rich source of pollen and nectar for bees and they usually bloom during the period bees are pollinating.  

Conclusion

The study of bees is one that is fascinating and we keep learning different things about these tiny creatures that buzz about our yards.

As a gardener who wants a sufficiently blooming garden, it is important that you plant the flowers with the right kind of colors which will sufficiently attract the bees to your garden.

Making your garden bee friendly will ensure the survival of a bee colony and help the bee population in the world in the long run.

Written by Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books

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