SUMMARY Recent work has revealed that honeybees determine distance flown by gauging the extent to which the image of the environment moves in the eye as they fly toward their destination. Here we examine the properties of this visually driven `odometer', by training bees to fly to a feeder in a tunnel lined with a range of different visual patterns, and analysing their dances when they return to the hive. We find that the odometric signal is relatively unaffected by variations in the contrast and spatial frequency content of the patterns. Furthermore, a strong signal is generated even when the walls or the floor of the tunnel provide only weak optic-flow cues. Thus, distance flown is measured by a visually driven odometer that is surprisingly robust to variations in the texture or sparseness of the visual environment through which the bee flies.