University of Würzburg scientists published the first explanation of how honeybees are able to detect and orient rapidly to flower odors as they fly around in the Feb. 11, 2013, issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.
The physical structure of bee’s olfactory system has been known for many years. Bees smell through their antenna.
The neurological and neurochemical means by which bees find flowers and know hive mates has not been known until now.
Honeybees smell using a parallel processing system. The bee senses two odor signals through different nerve pathways at the same time. This mechanism speeds up the response time for the detection of flowers, hive mates, and enemies.
The two sensory channels were found to be definable as a “what” and “when” pair by the scientists. The honeybees 60,000 olfactory receptors allow for a millisecond time difference between determining time and place and allows the bee to be as accurate and successful a flower finder as they are.