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Electrostatic interactions between flowers and bees

Electrostatic interactions between flowers and bees. Dominic Clarke/Daniel Robert/Heather Whitney
From Left to Right: Daniel Robert, Gregory Sutton, Heather Whitney, and Dominic Clarke.
From left to right: Daniel Robert, Gregory Sutton, Heather Whitney, and Dominic Clarke.

The team

From the University of Bristol:

  • Professor Daniel Robert
  • Dr Heather Whitney
  • Dr Gregory Sutton
  • Mr Dominic Clarke

The science behind the exhibit

Have you ever felt the hairs on your arm stand on end when you brush past an old television screen? Or stuck a balloon to the wall after rubbing it on your jumper? If so you’ve experienced part of the world of static electricity, but you probably haven’t felt the electrical pull of a bee’s wings or the charged electric advertisement of a flower. These tiny electric fields are sensed by bees and used to make important decisions in their lives, like which flowers to visit and which to ignore, and can even help them communicate with each-other inside their hive.

About the exhibit

  • See how electricity helps bees pollinate flowers: Use electrically charged sticks and see who can pick up the most pollen with them
  • See and hear the usually invisible electrical world of real live bees as they forage for food in our special flight arena
  • Learn about the hidden electric fields of flowers and see them brought to life in images and videos and interactive demonstrations

Video

Electrostatic interactions between flowers and bees  

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Images

These images are protected by copyright law and may be used with acknowledgement.

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