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Data from: Iridescence untwined - Honey bees can separate hue variations in space and time

Cite this dataset

Ng, Leslie et al. (2022). Data from: Iridescence untwined - Honey bees can separate hue variations in space and time [Dataset]. Dryad.


Iridescence is a phenomenon whereby the hue of a surface changes with viewing or illumination angle. Many animals display iridescence but it currently remains unclear whether relevant observers process iridescent color signals as a complex collection of colors (spatial variation), or as moving patterns of colors and shapes (temporal variation). This is important as animals may use only the spatial or temporal component of the signal, although this possibility has rarely been considered or tested. Here, we investigated whether honey bees could separate the temporal and spatial components of iridescence by training them to discriminate between iridescent disks and photographic images of the iridescent patterns presented by the disks. Both stimuli therefore contained spatial color variation, but the photographic stimuli do not change in hue with varying angle (no temporal variation). We found that individual bee observers could discriminate the variable patterns of iridescent disks from static photographs during unrewarded tests. Control experiments showed that bees reliably discriminated iridescent disks from control silver disks, showing that bees were processing chromatic cues. These results suggest that honey bees could selectively choose to attend to the temporal component of iridescence signals to make accurate decisions.

Usage notes

Refer to the readme file within the Data folder to access general information about the included data files. 

Raw data and code is also available on Github thor visit the HTML interactive version of the code.

The HTML link may take a couple of minutes to load. If there is any other issue, please contact the authors directly.


Australian Research Council, Award: DP190102203

Australian Research Council, Award: FT180100216

Australian Research Council, Award: DP160100161