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Bees are genetically predisposed to the colors purple, blue, and violet. Here's why:

In apiculture (bee raring), I have been accustomed to associating this practice with the color yellow. In Kenya, like in many countries, the main color used in making bee hives is color yellow and many bee keepers, at least the serious ones, grow yellow colored sunflowers as a bee attractant.

It could be a color that the bees like but it may not be their favorite color. At least I personally have been able to shatter this myth. Here is why, a couple of times when we set up blue colored bee hives to induce hive colonization during 'swarming season', they got colonized at a much faster rate than the yellow colored bee hives (in addition to the use of swarm lure or bees wax). I have set up hives at different locations in Kenya across four counties from Siaya, Naivasha, Machakos and Kisumu. On all these locations, the blue hives lured the bees much faster.

Is this observation extended to the environment where bees forage for food and nectar? My curiosity led me to observe something interesting on my farm in Muhoroni. That bees favor the notorious violet colored striger weed to any other flower. Striger is a stubborn weed that grows amongst maize and is common in Kisumu County. Besides this, they love other flowers on the farm that are purple, blue, and violet colored.

For bees, these colors are particularly visible to their eyes. Bees have three types of photoreceptor cells in their eyes that allow them to see ultraviolet, blue, and green wavelengths of light. They cannot see red, but can see violet, which is the shortest wavelength of visible light.

According to science, bees are genetically programmed to seek out purple flowers so that they have the best chance of survival. Purple flowers have a higher nectar content than any other flowers followed by blue and violet colored flowers.

Many flowers have evolved to produce pigments that reflect ultraviolet, blue, and violet light to attract bees and other pollinators. These pigments, known as anthocyanins, are responsible for the red, purple, and blue colors that we see in many flowers.

The shape and scent of a flower also play a role in attracting bees, but color is often the most important factor. Bees are able to distinguish between different shades of color, which helps them find the flowers that contain the most nectar and pollen. Some sunflower varieties and white colored flowers have shapes and a scent that lures bees to them.

There is a word of caution: When it comes to colors. Bees see color red as black. When working around bees or near an apiary, avoid putting on black clothes as this signals bees of a potential threat which may lead them to attack you. White colors are best when working with or near bees. Avoid wearing strong perfumes too as this may lure them to you. I have been stung occasionally and this very beneficial. I would recommend getting stung twice a year to boost your immune system owing to the medicinal properties that comprise bee venom.

However, not all people react the same way to a bee sting and for some this may be fatal or cause a painful swelling.

Steve Adala

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