The organization of honeybee ocelli: Regional specializations and rhabdom arrangements

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We have re-investigated the organization of ocelli in honeybee workers and drones. Ocellar lenses are divided into a dorsal and a ventral part by a cusp-shaped indentation. The retina is also divided, with a ventral retina looking skywards and a dorsal retina looking at the horizon. The focal plane of lenses lies behind the retina in lateral ocelli, but within the dorsal retina in the median ocellus of both workers and drones. Ventral retinula cells are ca. 25 mu m long with dense screening pigments. Dorsal retinula cells are ca. 60 mu m long with sparse pigmentation mainly restricted to their proximal parts. Pairs of retinula cells form flat, non-twisting rhabdom sheets with elongated, straight, rectangular cross-sections, on average 8.7 mu m long and 1 mu m wide. Honeybee ocellar rhabdoms have shorter and straighter cross-sections than those recently described in the night-active bee Megalopta genalis. Across the retina, rhabdoms form a fan-shaped pattern of orientations. In each ocellus, ventral and dorsal retinula cell axons project into two separate neuropils, converging on few large neurons in the dorsal, and on many small neurons in the ventral neuropil. The divided nature of the ocelli, together with the particular construction and arrangement of rhabdoms, suggest that ocelli are not only involved in attitude control, but might also provide skylight polarization compass information. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences


  • Honeybees, Workers, Drones, Ocelli, Rhabdom organization, Polarization, sensitivity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-520
JournalArthropod Structure & Development
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch