2014/06/19

"Honey bee, honey bee, come to me, come to me"

Walking back from the shops I saw a dead bee on the pavement. I managed not to squash it with my great big feet. I thought immediately of my 40 Euro USB microscope and what it would show me of the bee. I'd not have killed a bee just to look at it, but there it was on the pavement, unsquashed. So I picked it up...


When I got home the first thing I saw and could get into focus was the leg shown above. Scary eh? But not as scary as the head:


It does not look dead to me, the eyes seem to be staring at me. In the photo below you can clearly see the segmented eyes (more on that later) and the yellow "fur" behind the head...


The mouth is pretty scary too...


The greatest revelation to me was the wings though. As far as the microscope was concerned it was good that bee wings are flat, so you can get it all into focus, and isn't it beautiful...?


Back to those multifaceted insect eyes. Sometimes you see images like this, pixellated flowers...



...and we are told that "bees see like this". As if anyone can tell how bees create images in their brains. Our own vision system is really unconcious interpretation of the signals that arrive. For example we see in "3d", but the 3d is reconstructed from two flat 2d images.

In the article  "What is it like to be a bat" by Thomas Nagel he maintains that it is impossible for us to know that. We just do not have the equipment. Who knows how a bee's brain reconstructs the signals from its multifacented eyes? I bet there's no humunculus bee sitting inside the brain of the bee watching a pixellated computer screen.

The title of this post is from a song by Kerry Andrew, "Honey Bee".

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