Bees play a significant role in the fertilization of flowers. They are mostly involved in the process we know as pollination. This helps flowers achieve complete reproduction and multiply in the cycle. At the end of this article, you will learn more about the pollen transfer process and how bees help in fertilization.
How do Bees transfer pollen? Bees drink the nectar and collect pollen near their legs, known as the pollen basket, when they brush against the plant. When bees search for nectar, they deposit pollen from male to female flowers. This enables fertilization and development of fruits and seeds.
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Why Do Bees Collect Pollen From Flowers?
Bees do not intend to pollinate the flowers since they are in search of food. They collect nectar as their food for the entire colony and during this process they also pollinate flowers. Some bees collect pollen using their hind legs while other kinds of bees collect via their hairy bodies. Or even a mix of the two.
Pollen is a source of protein for the bee colony. Protein plays a big role in a bees life since without protein, no young bees can be raised and the colony would die. Bees use protein-rich pollen in order to feed their babies. The babies consume pollen in order to produce “brood food” secretions from a gland in their mouths.
There are a lot of flowers that bees are attracted to and where they collect pollen. Here is a list of flowers that is popular to the bees:
- Lilacs: These flowers come in different colors and are easy to grow. They also give off a sweet, floral fragrance to keep the bees coming back for more.
- Lavender: This kind of flower is probably the most favorite of bees. This due to their long bloom time and the fact that they’re rich in nectar.
- Wisteria: Wisteria vines are very fragrant, and they start to blossom during the short growing season. You can expect to see a swarm buzzing around this charming vine.
- Sunflowers: These flowers are nectar and pollen playground for bees which we also benefit from the crop because it yields seeds and oil.
- Snapdragons: This kind of flower is unique in scent, shape, and color. Bees are typically active during the day, and this is the time when snapdragons release most of their scent. Bees cannot determine the color red but they can see the color yellow and blue which makes this flower attractive to them.
- Pale Purple Coneflower: These types of flowers produce a lot which is perfect for attracting bees. Another factor is its color which makes it attractive to bees.
- Sedums: This is great for bee because they grow in the later months towards summer’s end, making it possible for worker bees to store up food for the winter. Sedums also grow low which make it easier to reach for short-tongued honey bees.
- Honeysuckle: This flower has a sweet smell which makes it attractive to bees and other pollinators.
- Poppies: These kinds of flowers usually shows up during the Spring season. They provide a banquet of food or pollen, where honey bees often frequent the plant’s flowering buffet.
There are a lot more plants that bees can get pollen from aside from flowers. These are just the top flowers that they usually visit in their daily lives. Bees can pollinate from trees as well such as oak, black cherry, and magnolia tree.
Do Male or Female Bees Collect Pollen from Flowers?
Male bees are known as drones while a female bee is known as a worker bee. Unlike female bees, male bees do not have stingers and gather neither nectar nor pollen. The primary role of a drone is to mate with the queen bee. A female bee, on the other hand, does not have the full reproductive capacity of the colony’s queen bee.
These worker bees are responsible for gathering pollen into the pollen baskets on their back legs. They carry the pollen back to the hive where it is used as food for the developing brood, the pollen is now carried on their bodies which may be carried from flower to flower.
Drones, however, do not feed themselves when they are young. They are fed by the worker bees, and then when the drone bees get older, they feed themselves from the honey supply. The pollen that is brought into the hive for feeding the brood is also stored.
This process is called pollen packing. Pollen must be packed firmly into comb cells and mixed with a small amount of honey so that it will not spoil. Unlike honey, stored pollen will become rotten without proper care.
Aside from the drone and worker bees, there are a lot of other types of bees in the colony. Some bees and larvae must be removed from the hive. This is to prevent disease and allow cells to be reused. These bees and larvae are usually carried away far from the colony by mortuary bees.
The water carriers and fanning bees work together hand in hand. If ever the hive is in danger of overheating, water carriers obtain water that is usually from within a short distance from the colony. They bring the water in the hive to spread on the backs of fanning bees.
Fanning bees are responsible for cooling the hive with evaporated water brought by water carrier bees. These bees direct airflow into the colony or out of the hive depending on need. Lastly, there are the guard bees which are responsible for guarding the hive against invaders such as wasps.
The number of guard bees differs from season to season and from species to species. The entrance space and daily traffic play a significant role in guard bees daily life. As per Wikipedia, the species Tetragonisca angustula and Schwarziana quadripunctata are examples of eusocial bees that have been observed hovering at their nest entrances, providing more protection against intruders.
The foraging bees are responsible for scouting which they usually travel up to three kilometers to any nectar, pollen source, or to collect propolis. Just like us, bees have their roles in their daily lives. Each part is essential to keep their colony healthy and functioning.
The worker bee has the most important role because they are the ones who are responsible for bringing food back to the colony. They are also vital to us since they are the ones who have a significant effect on the world’s food supply, mainly fruit, that depends on crop pollination.
Bee Pollen vs. Flower Pollen
There is a lot of difference between these two, whether it’s nutritional or allergenic. Flower pollen is pure and concentrated nutrients (the husks removed); the body can absorb and benefit nutritionally. Bee pollen contains the hard outer shell which is indigestible and has no nutritional benefit.
Flower pollen is created when the plants produce flowers.
“pollen is a fine to a coarse powdery substance comprising pollen grains which are male microgametophytes of seed plants”Wikipedia
Bee pollen is product made within the hive.
“a ball or pellet of field-gathered flower pollen packed by worker honeybees and used as the primary food source for the hive“.Wikipedia
Ingesting flower pollen is like eating the inside of a nut of a walnut or pecan with a hard outer shell removed. Our system can absorb the full benefit of the nutrients inside. Since bee pollen contains a hard shell, some people can be allergic to it. These shells have ridges all over them, which can trap dirt and fungi.
People consume flower pollen and bee pollen for nutrition and to treat a variety of sickness, which includes allergies and menstrual symptoms. Many advanced manufacturing techniques have allowed the production of clean flower pollen extract that contains abundant amounts of nutrients.
Bee pollen, on the contrary, still includes bee parts and debris after their manufacturing process. This can make it less safe for people with allergies, and it’s less indigestible. They also contain bacteria, spores, and molds it collects from plants. The reason why bee pollen usually have these contaminants and allergens because there is no quality control when it comes to harvesting pollen from bees.
This is considered one of nature’s most complete foods due to its comprehensive and balanced nutrient profile. They are also complete with protein, rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and antioxidants, it is considered an immune system builder that will also enhance vitality.
Bee pollen is also a great brain booster, lifting brain fatigue, improving alertness and helps concentration levels over a long period of time. It is also known to enhance athletic performance because it can enhance strength and endurance. Bee pollen also contains all of the 22 amino acids which is where it got the reputation of a muscle builder.
They are also referred to as “anti-stress” or “morale” vitamins because when the nervous system is working optimally anxiety and stress can be greatly lessened. They also benefit people who are suffering from allergies, including hay fever, by reducing histamine levels in the body.
It also helps alleviate nausea, sleep disorders, stress, and anxiety by bringing the body into nutritional balance and well being. Some tradition also says that people with asthma will suffer less during pollen season if they eat local honey containing the pollen to which they are allergic.
However, there is no medical research to back up all of these claims. There may be a lot of difference between bee pollen and flower pollen, but they play a big part in our lives. We may not notice it in our daily lives but this is the cycle of bees.
Note that not all pollen can be consumed. Consult a medical physician before introduced a new food into your diet.
What are pollen and nectar?
There is a lot of differences between pollen and nectar. Nectar is a sweet substance, produced by some plants that attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Bees collect nectar in order to make it into honey. When they collect the nectar, bees accidentally transfer pollen from male flowers to female flowers.
Nectars are useful in agriculture because the adult stages of some predatory insects feed on nectar. Secretion of pollen increases as the flower is visited by pollinators. After pollination, the nectar is frequently reabsorbed into the plant.
Pollen, on the other hand, is a fine powder of small particles from the male flower that can fertilize the female flower in order to produce seed. These are produced by anthers, which is the male reproductive organs found in most flowering plants.
How do bees and flowers help each other?
Both bees and flowers are beneficial to each other. Flowers provide bees with nectar and pollen, which worker bees collect in order to feed their entire colonies. Bees, on the other hand, provide flowers with the means to reproduce. This is done by spreading pollen from flower to flower in a process called pollination.
Is it dangerous to take bee pollen?
Bee pollen is typically dangerous to people who are allergic to bees and honey. However, if you are one of the many people who aren’t allergic to these two, then bee pollen may great for you. Bee pollen consists of vitamins B1, B1, B2 and B3 which are essential or a healthy nervous system and powerful detoxifiers, especially to the brain.
The recommended intake of bee pollen is 5-10g (1-2 teaspoons) which you can add to your favorite cereals, smoothies, yogurt or hot drink. It helps lessen nausea, sleep disorders, stress, and anxiety by bringing the body into nutritional balance and well being.
Remember to consult a medical professional before eating new foods.
How many flowers do bees pollinate a day?
Bees usually visit at least 5,000 flowers in a single day. Since there are millions of bees out in the world, the number of flowers they visit are endless! Just imagine, if you have a pound of honey, a hive of bees must travel over 55,000 miles and visit two million flowers.
To summarize, bees accidentally transfer pollen when they collect nectar from flowers. The pollen is placed on their hind legs which are called the pollen basket. This process is called pollinating which helps the flowers to fertilize. Both bees and flowers go hand in hand in their everyday life.