Bees have excellent color vision, allowing them to distinguish many colors in visible and ultraviolet light wavelengths.
They use sight to find the best flowers for forage, but they have learned to associate different colors with threats or non-threatening items.
This especially applies to big objects (you know… like humans!)
So are there any particular colors that bees dislike?
And if so, which ones do they hate the most?
What Colors Do Bees Hate?
Bees are indifferent to white but actively dislike red, black, brown, and other dark colors. This is because these colors often represent a threat to their natural habitat rather than food. In addition, red appears black to bees because they do not have receptors in their eyes to perceive red.
Bees have pretty exceptional eyesight for such a tiny insect, including the ability to distinguish a wide range of colors and light and dark shades. The capability to determine light and dark allows the bees to identify shapes and outlines. This enables them to navigate obstacles during flight, identify common threat shapes, and identify flowers by shape.
Plants respond by creating flowers with shapes and colors to attract particular pollinators. Plants that prefer bees as pollinators will produce flower shapes and colors that specifically attract bees.
Alternatively, plants that prefer butterflies and birds as pollinators will produce flowers that are more attractive to these insects!
Isn’t nature incredible!?
And it doesn’t end there…
Some plants prefer nighttime pollinators such as bats and moths. Therefore, they will not open their flowers during the daytime but only at night to attract the pollinators that can offer the best service to these plants!
Since bees have good color vision, it’s natural that they will show a particular preference for some colors and avoid others.
So What Colors Least Attract Bees?
Dark colors such as orange, red, brown, and black are the least attractive colors to bees. They cannot perceive red at all since they do not have the correct receptors in their eyes to see this color. Bees can see yellow and white, but these hues are less attractive than blue, purple, and violet colors.
Bees consider white a neutral, non-threatening color, which is why most bee suits are white. Tan-colored bee suits are also acceptable since it is a combination of white and yellow, which is not particularly attractive to bees.
Bees are primarily attracted to blue, purple, and violet flowers because these are the ones they perceive the easiest.
Are There Colors That Bees Hate?
Bees do not hate specific colors, but certain colors are more enticing to them than others.
Bees can use their perception of light and dark to identify potential threats to the colony. For example, large dark shapes generally represent a large animal approaching the beehive, triggering a defense response in the bees.
Bees are more likely to attack people wearing dark colors than light-hued clothing.
Did I Hear That Bees Hate The Color Black?
Black is not a common color in the plant world, and as such, it is not a color that bees associate with a food source.
Bees do not hate black, but they mostly perceive dark objects, including black, as a threat to the colony. Large dark shapes moving in the vicinity of the hive indicate a potential danger, and the bees are more likely to attack black or dark shapes.
This does not mean that bees hate black. Still, it is the color most commonly associated with a possible danger to the colony. As a result, the bees will mostly ignore smaller black objects.
Why Bees Dislike Certain Colors
Bees dislike dark colors such as brown, black and red because these colors typically represent an approaching threat to the colony.
Think of large animals, such as humans, bears, and even curious horses. They often damage hives by accident or actively raid the colony for food.
These dark colors are associated with danger and are more likely to evoke a defensive reaction in the bees.
Do Bees Hate The Color Red?
It is a common misconception to think that bees hate red. They do not hate the color red. It is just that they do not have the necessary photoreceptors in their eye structure to perceive this color.
Just like humans, a bee’s vision is trichromatic. But where human vision is based on red, blue, and green, a bee’s visual perception is based on green, blue, and UV light. Consequently, bees can’t see red.
Red appears black to bees, which is why they treat red the same way as they treat black. A person wearing red will appear as a large black object to the bees, which will cause them to become defensive. Red things like this close to the hive look like a big dark threatening blob!
Scuba divers will understand the concept of being unable to see red. Red is the color with the least amount of energy in its wavelength, causing it to be absorbed more easily by water. Therefore, red is no longer visible in the water at a depth of 15 feet or 4.5 meters.
Any red object at this depth appears black to the scuba diver. This is the same way bees perceive red because they lack red photoreceptors.
Does this mean that bees will not pollinate red flowers? On the contrary, bees will pollinate certain red flowers that display a sheen in the ultraviolet light spectrum, which we can not see. Certain red flowers use this strategy to attract bees and other pollinators.
The sheen of these flowers in the ultraviolet spectrum will stand out to bees like lights on a dark runway, and they will land on the flowers to forage.
Bees also have an acute sense of smell, which is why flowers produce a fragrance. In addition, bees are attracted to flowers with the combination of scent and color. Thus, if the color is not particularly attractive to the bees, but the smell is, the bees will still be attracted to the flower.
An example is a bottle-brush tree, which has red flowers, but the bees love the scent. So you will always find a bottle-brush tree buzzing with bees when the red flowers are in bloom!
Are There Any Colors That Keep Bees Away?
There are no colors that actively repel bees, so there are no colors that keep bees away. However, there are colors that bees do not show a particular interest in, which makes the bees leave them alone more than other colors.
White and light pastel colors, such as light yellow and pale pink, do not stand out in a bee’s vision and are not viewed as a potential danger.
If you want a neutral response from bees, these are the colors to go for 🙂
What Color Should You Not Wear Around Bees?
The colors you should not wear around bees are bright colors that mimic their favorite flower colors. For example, yellow, blue, purple, and violet will signal bees to come and investigate potential food sources.
So forget that oversized flowery shirt when you visit a beehive 🙂
Similarly, do not wear strong fragrances and perfumes around bees, as this will further pique their interest and prompt the bees to investigate.
Sounds like my aunt would be in trouble! She loves loud colors and always wears too much perfume…
White is the best color to wear around bees since they show disinterest and are more likely to leave you alone.
What Color Flowers Do Bees Hate?
Bees do not hate any particular color flower, but they are more predisposed to certain hues than others.
For example, suppose a white flower is positioned next to a blue or purple flower. In that case, the bee’s natural response will be to go to the blue or purple one. Unless the flower is exuding an irresistible fragrance!
But overall, bees are seen in fewer numbers on red, orange, and black flowers than any other colors, making these the least favored by the bees.
To sum up…
Bees have good color perception and prefer colors in blue, purple, and violet shades. Still, they will visit yellow and white flowers if attracted by the fragrance.
Red, black and dark colors such as brown and orange are the least attractive to bees and are often seen as a menace if the object in these colors is large.
Yes… that means you, you big scary human!