Pollination is the term used for the sexual reproduction and fertilization of one plant by another. Most plants require pollination from another plant to reproduce in order to keep that particular species alive and to keep the genetic diversity within the species. The most common way for a plant to do this is by the use of pollinators such as bees. Only a few plants in the world can reproduce asexually. This is where a plant can reproduce on its own without being fertilized by another.
Types of Pollination
About 80% of all known plants require the use of organisms, usually insects, to help with their fertilization and reproductive cycle. Insects such as bees, wasps, moths, butterflies, and flies all assist in this event causing the propagation of the species. Some birds such as the humming bird also help plants and flowers reproduce. Water based plants, use different methods which often involve releasing their pollen into the water and allowing the water flow to carry it to other plants either on the surface of the water or submerged. This process is called Hydrophily. Another way plants can pollinate each other is by using the wind to carry its pollen to other flowers and plants. This pollination process is called anemophily and is most common in grasses, many deciduous trees and conifers.
Male Reproductive Organs in Flowers
Flowers are considered to be the reproductive unit of many plants. Some contain both male and female reproductive organs. This is so they can assist with the fertilization of another plant while reproducing from their own fertilized seeds. The male reproductive organs consist of the stamen, which contains the anther. This produces the pollen necessary for fertilization. The anther is usually situated on a thin stem called the filament.
Female Reproductive Organs in Flowers
The female reproductive organs are made up of the stigma, which receive the pollen used for fertilization, and the ovary that houses the ovules. The ovules are the cells that become the seeds once they have been fertilized.
Bees are attracted to two things in plants: pollen and nectar. Nectar is full of sugars and provides the bee with its main source of energy, while pollen provides a diet of fats and proteins. The nectar is created in nectarines which are glands within a plant or flower designed specifically for this purpose. Bees collect nectar in order to take it back to their nest where worker bees turn it into honey. This honey is then placed into honeycombs and sealed with wax so it can be eaten later. Bees create these honeycombs to see them through the winter months when food may be scarce.
Bees are considered to be pollinators, this is because they are the means by which the pollen is moved from one flower to another thus fertilizing (or pollinating) the plant. In their quest to collect food they land on flowers and plants in order to drink the nectar. While doing this they brush up against the anther within the flower. Pollen is rubbed off and sticks to the coat of the bee. When the bee has collected what it can from that particular flower it moves on to another carrying the pollen with it. Upon landing on another flower the pollen is rubbed off of the bee and falls into the stigma, fertilizing the ovules in the ovary of the plant.
- Photo Credit Bee image by Tamas Majer from Fotolia.com
Why Do Flowers Need Bees?
Flowers need bees to help them complete the act of fertilization that allows them to reproduce, according to Michigan State University. As...