The transfer of pollen from a male part of a plant (anther) to a female part of a plant (stigma), of the same species, is called pollination. This enables fertilisation and the production of seeds.
Pollination is important to plants and to pollinators also. From the flowers that they visit, pollinators receive nectar and/or pollen (sugary nectar provides pollinators with carbohydrates). Pollen offers proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and necessary phytochemicals.
Bees are living almost exclusively on nectar and they feed their larvae with pollen and honey (see https://apismellifera.io/2018/05/30/why-choose-honey/ for more details about honey vitamins and minerals).
Plants can be self-pollinating (can fertilize itself), or cross-pollinating (needs a pollinator).
More than 80% of the world’s flowering plants needs a pollinator to reproduce.
One of the known pollinators, and the most responsible for pollination, are:
– bees (the most efficient ones and one of the most important insect pollinators) – prefer blue or yellow flowers and those that are sweet-smelling;
– butterflies like flowers that are red, yellow, or orange; scent doesn’t matter as they rely more on vision to find nectar;
– hummingbirds – are attracted to red, orange, or yellow flowers; as they do not have a highly developed sense of smell, flower scent doesn’t matter for them;
– moths – are attracted to sweet-scented flowers;
– bats – like flowers that are large and white or pale in color;
– beetles – attracted to flowers that are white or green;
– wind – some factors has to be taken in consideration like power of the wind, area, plants and distance;
– water – but only for a very few terrestrial plants.
There are different types of pollination:
– open-pollination – insect, bird, wind, humans (can be seen in the picture below how it’s done), or other natural mechanisms – more genetically diverse;
– self-pollinated – the “perfect flower” – both the polen and stigma are present in the same flower, needed for reproduction;
– hybrid – bred from two different types of plant;
– heirloom – most of them come from seed that has been handed down for generations in a particular region or area, hand-selected by gardeners for a special trait.
There are also other attempts for pollination, like robot bees pollinators (drones with camera and senors, that can detect the location of the crops), but this is just a brief introduction in the world of bees.