Honeybees, Apis mellifera, were trained to detect coloured disks with either a strong or a weak intensity difference against the background. Green, blue, ultraviolet-reflecting white and grey papers were reciprocally combined as targets or backgrounds, providing strong chromatic and/or achromatic cues. The behavioural performance of the honeybees was always symmetrical for both reciprocal target/background combinations of a colour pair, thus showing that target detection is independent of whether the colour is presented as a background or as a target in combination with the other colour. Bright targets against dim backgrounds and vice versa were detected more reliably than dim target/background combinations. This result favours the general assumption that the detectability of a coloured stimulus increases with increasing intensity.

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