The Power Of Pollination

Closeup photo of the center of a red tulip including anthers and pollen

Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the anthers (male reproduction organs) of a flower to the stigma (female) of the same flower or of another flower. Pollination is a step before fertilization: the fusion of nuclei from the pollen grain with nuclei in the ovule. [1]

Fertilization allows the flower to develop seeds.

Though, in spite of common misperception that pollen grains are gametes, like the sperm cells of animals, this is not accurate; pollination is a phase in the process of alternation of generations. [2]

Since pollination is the act which helps in creating the future generation of the plant, its extremely important! This is where our little friends the bees come into play. Even though some plant species have mastered the art of “Self-Pollination” The genetic diversity is severely limited those plants. The act of cross pollination offers a greater deal of diversity since plants have evolved a wide variety of sexual strategies to attract pollinators and spread pollen from one flower to another of the same species. [3]

Daffodil pollen
Daffodil pollen

During the act of Cross Pollination, also referred to as allogamy, Anthers open on one flower and a pollinator (insects, wind, or animals) moves pollen to the stigma of another flower. Pollinators may visit several flowers on one plant or may visit several flowers of the same species on a few different plants. Insect and other animal pollinators obtain food in form of energy-rich nectar and protein-rich pollen, from the flowers they visit and in return, the flowers receive the services of pollinators carrying pollen from one flower to another. This is how we get honey, but more on that in a different blog.

bees at the hive entrance with big fat pollen legs

If flowers are not pollinated efficiently, the flower will die before it has had a chance to pass its genetic information on to the future blooms. This also means if the plant produces some sort of fruit, it cannot do so because the pollen has not fused with the ovule. This is why pollinating vectors, such as honey bees, are so important to our ecosystems. What would April be without the dozens of tulips, daffodils, and Irises everywhere? As well as the fruit that we consume on a daily bases? If there are no bees, there are no plants, or very little of them. Pollinators such as bees insure that there is a future food source for them and others. Such a selfless act. [4]

Bee on russian sage collecting nectar and pollen

According to US Forest Service, “Of the 1,400 crop plants grown around the world, i.e., those that produce all of our food and plant-based industrial products, almost 80% require pollination by animals. Visits from bees and other pollinators also result in larger, more flavorful fruits and higher crop yields. In the United States alone, pollination of agricultural crops is valued at 10 billion dollars annually. Globally, pollination services are likely worth more than 3 trillion dollars.[3]

bees with pollen legs storing pollen and nector in a frame of comb

What seems like such a small action, pollination, helps us in so many ways. Pollinating vectors provide us with not only food and foliage, but also clean air. So next time you see a flower, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. Just make sure you’re not interrupting a little hard worker on a mission to improve our planet.

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About the Author

kara

Kara waxes about the bees, creates and tests recipes with her friend Joyce, and does her best to share what she’s learned and continues to learn about the bees, honey, ingredients we use and more.

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