Flowers, on the other hand, "are electrically connected to ground," he said. Unlike copper wire, which transfers charges very quickly, plants conduct electricity very slowly and tend to possess a negative charge.
For the study, Robert and his team placed petunia flowers in an area with free-flying foraging bees. The researchers then studied how interactions between the two changed the electric fields and the bees' behavior.
They determined that when a bee lands on a flower, this generates its own electrical field, and therefore a force. It's as though a mini spark results when the two connect.
Robert and his colleagues believe "that the bee can sense this electrically induced force." It appears to improve the bee's memory of flower rewards, such as pollen and nectar, affecting later foraging.
The flower, in turn, is electrically changed for a short period after the interaction.
"Bees have what has been observed to be flower constancy, (meaning that) once they forage, they tend to keep going to one type of flower, and they keep going until they feel that the rewards are not worth it anymore," Robert said.