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it seems that different kinds of bees are attracted to different kinds of symmetry

... but the appearance of symmetry is a reliable expression of formal organization - of purpose, even intent. Symmetry is an unmistakable sign that thereís relevant information in a place. Thatís because symmetry is a property shared by a relatively small number of things in the landscape, all of them of keen interest to us. [...] Symmetry is also a sign of health in a creature, since mutations and environmental stresses can easily disturb it. So paying attention to symmetrical things makes good sense: symmetry is usually significant.

The same holds true for bees. How do we know? Because symmetry in a plant is an extravagance (whereas animals who want to move in a straight line canít do without it), and natural selection probably wouldnít go to the trouble if the bees didnít reward the effort.

But if the pleasure bees and people take in flowers have a common root, standards of floral beauty soon begin to specialize and diverge - and not just bee from boy, but bee from bee as well. For it seems that different kinds of bees are attracted to different kinds of symmetry. Honeybees favor the radial symmetry of daisies and clover and sunflowers, while bumblebees prefer the bilateral symmetry of orchids, peas, and foxgloves. Whatever the case, the more perfect the symmetry, the healthier - and therefore sweeter - the flower.

Michael Pollan: The Botany of Desire, Random house, New York, 2002.

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