A bumblebee visits a flower, drawn in by the bright colours, the patterns on the petals, and the aromatic promise of sweet nectar. But there's more to pollination than sight and smell. There is also electricity in the air.
Dominic Clarke and Heather Whitney from the University of Bristol have shown that bumblebees can sense the electric field that surrounds a flower. They can even learn to distinguish between fields produced by different floral shapes, or use them to work out whether a flower has been recently visited by other bees. Flowers aren't just visual spectacles and smelly beacons. They're also electric billboards.
"This is a big finding," says Daniel Robert, who led the study. "Nobody had postulated the idea that bees could be sensitive to the electric field of a flower."
Upton flew on a Zero Gravity Corporation flight to model new bikini and one-piece fashions in weightlessness for Sports Illustrated's 2014 Swimsuit Issue, which hit newsstands today (Feb. 18). Upton's weightless experience shows what it might be like to model while in outer space, according to ZERO-G officials.