The 2015 Nikon Small World contest winner is this image of a bee by Ralph Grimm, an amateur photographer and bee enthusiast. Congratulations! The image was made by mounting the bee eye and using stacking software to achieve the combination of focus and detail. The pollen grains stuck to the hairs surrounding and present on the eye make this image compelling.
The image raises questions about the effect of pollen grains on vision. One might think that the pollen grains would obscure some of the visual field and interfere with the bee’s vision. However, other visual systems can compensate for small objects that obscure a portion of the field of vision. Human eyes can have “floaters”, clumps or strands in the vitreous fluid that float between the lens and the retina of the eye. They can become more prominent with aging. Floaters are generally ignored unless a person concentrates on them. It is likely the bee’s visual processing can compensate similar to the human visual system compensation for “floaters”.