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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Bawden

Honey Bee Ocelli: The Third, Fourth and Fifth Eye

When it comes to honey bee eyes, more is better

Honey Bee Ocelli

We are all familiar with bees having two eyes, right? These commonly known eyes are called compound eyes. But what if I told you that bees actually have three additional eyes!

These eyes are called ocelli. Ocelli means “tiny eye” and are referred to as simple eyes. The three ocelli are located at the top of the bee’s head. Unlike vertebrate simple eyes, these are used as light and spatial receptors. There are two lateral (on the sides) ocelli and one median (in the middle) ocelli.

The current theory is that honey bees use these eyes to help them during flight acting like “altitude controls” to help them navigate where they are in relation to the ground. They do this by having the eyes focus on the horizon as they fly, just like an attitude indicator that pilots use in an airplane.


These eyes can also be used to look straight up to judge the change of intensity of light in the sky and possible predators. If you want to learn more about ocelli, check out this paper by Hung and Ibbotson. We also want to thank Zac Nelson for his help researching this article with us.

Thanks for supporting local beekeeping,

Trevor Bawden

Lloyd St. Bees

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