This research was published in the online edition of the journal Science.
Studies show that plants use electric fields to communicate with bees, which are able to find the weak electric signals emitted by the flowers.
Bees acquire a positive charge of up to 200 volts as they fly through the air, and the flowers emit weak negatively charged electric fields.
The two different positive and negative charged fields sense and attract each other. The bees do not get any electrical sparks, but they definitely feel the charge.
Tests showed that bees can distinguish between different flower types, and electric signals may also let the insects know if another bee has recently visited a flower.
Researchers suspect the electrostatic force might make the hair on bees bristle. A similar effect is seen when placing one's head close to an old style TV screen and feeling static electricity.
In previous studies, it was discovered that flowers were already known to use bright colors, patterns, and alluring scents to attract the bees. Now scientists believe that these electrical signals provide a much deeper level of communication.
Study leader Professor Daniel Robert, from the University of Bristol team, said, "This novel communication channel reveals how flowers can potentially inform their pollinators about the honest status of their precious nectar and pollen reserves."
The researchers investigated the signals by placing electrodes in the stems of petunias.
They found that when a bee landed on a flower, the plant's electrical potential changed and remained altered for several minutes. This would let a bee know that this flower has already been visited by another bee.
Scientists also learned that bumblebees can distinguish between different blossoming electrical fields These bees were also quicker at learning the difference between two flower colors when electrical signals were present.
"The co-evolution between flowers and bees has a long and beneficial history, so perhaps it's not entirely surprising that we are still discovering today how remarkably sophisticated their communication is," Professor Robert added.