Bumble Bees are excellent pollinators, and they add a fascinating dimension of beauty to our landscapes.
The hairs on their bodies have forked tips which helps with the gathering and transporting of pollen.
Bumble Bees include some species with long tongues and others with short tongues. This means they can forage on flowers with both short and long corollas and pollinate a wide array of different flower types.
However… the one pollinating trick they hold over other insect pollinators is the ability to buzz pollinate. What is buzz pollination, you may ask? Keep reading to find out from an explanation cut from-bumblebee conservation trust.
Some flower species have evolved to be conservative with their pollen, which is a very clever evolutionary strategy. Pollen is costly for the plant to produce in terms of energy, so the plant wants to be sure that the pollen produced is transported effectively in order for it to be able to reproduce. Plants that have evolved this strategy have poricidal anthers, which means that the pollen is packed tightly into the anther (the part of the plant that holds the pollen).
Most insects are unable to access this pollen, however bumblebees are able to contract their flight muscles, which produces strong vibrations that they direct on to the anther using their legs and mouth parts, resulting in a bee-covering explosion of nutritious pollen grains from the tip of the anther. The bee will comb most of these pollen grains from her fur and into her pollen baskets on her hind legs, but a few lucky grains will be missed and will go on to fertilize one of the next flowers she visits. For some unknown reason honeybees are unable to do this. Blueberries, tomatoes, aubergines and kiwis are just some examples of the many plant species that require this form of pollination. Thank you bumblebees!
It’s easy to appreciate and value the ecological importance of these hard-working insects. What’s not so easy is to wrap our minds around the fact that this is one more of Earth’s vital wildlife species that is in decline. We have all heard the reports about heat spikes, global warming, insecticides, habitat fragmentation, and disease… as threats for bee and bumble bee populations.
Bumble bees play a vital role in pollination… the very nature service that many food-producing plants rely upon. Food sources that are important to animal and human future survival.
What can we all do to help assure that Bumble Bees will survive? Please click the following links for resources that can help us begin to gain awareness and to understand and make bumble bee- friendly choices.
Submitted for the Lens-Artist photo challenge #83 |Future