The discrimination of pattern orientation in freely flying honeybees was examined by testing their ability to discriminate orientation in a variety of patterns composed of bars, edges or textures. The results indicate that orientation discrimination improves as (a) the length of the oriented element is increased, (b) the number of similarly oriented elements is increased, and (c) when a number of similarly oriented elements are arranged in collinear fashion. The orientation of bars is discriminated better when the bars are spatially homogeneous in intensity than when they are randomly textured. Furthermore, orientation discrimination is better with textured bars on a homogeneous background than vice versa. These findings suggest that orientation is analysed globally and that the strength of the orientation signal increases with the length and collinearity of the pattern's constituent elements. Furthermore, in analysing orientation, boundaries of objects seem to be less important than internal detail.