The Manufacturer and Builder 12, 1877
In a lecture delivered by Sir John Lubbock, the well-known English naturalist, we read of some interesting experiments made to test the ability of bees to distinguising colors. He said he had taught a bee to come to a certain place for honey, and he had then placed a quantity of honey on some blue paper. He allowed the bee to come to this honey several times, and he then placed some more honey on a piece of orange-colored substance. During the absence of the bee on one occasion he took advantage of the opportunity and shifted the position of the two lots of honey. The bee came as usual to the spot where the blue paper had formerly been placed, and stood as if in doubt near the orange-colored substance, and then it dashed over to the blue paper and commenced feeding from it as usual. The lecturer said he had experimented with a variety of colors, and found it always the case; if they accustomed a bee to take honey from a certain color it would always select that color from among others. It was fortunate for them the bees enjoyed the same colors and liked the same smells as they did, as there were certain flowers that were fertilized by flies, who preferred livid yellow, dingy red, and very unpleasant smelling flowers, and they were invariably accompanied by a very disagreeable odor, Therefore, if the majority of flowers were fertilized by flies, they would find that their gardens would lose many of their present charms.