The Pollination Cycle
What is the pollination cycle and how does it work?
Pollination is the transfer of male pollen grains to the female stigma in flowers of the same species. This transfer is primarily carried out by animals traveling around flower blossoms - pollen grains stick to their bodies. When pollen from one plant is deposited onto a plant of the same species, fertilization occurs and the fruit, nut, or seed will form.
Flies, beetles, butterflies, and other animals offer a small amount of pollination to local blossoms - it is the bee population that accomplishes the highest pollination rate!
This is largely because of the specially modified hairs that bees have on their bodies. These hairs are on the thorax of the bee and look remarkably like small feathers. Pollen grains become tangled in these hairs when a bee visits a flower to extract nectar or collect pollen from anthers. Sometimes bees are referred to as 'flying dust mops' because they can also pick up pollen grains on their bodies through static electrical attraction. As bees fly from flower to flower, pollen rubs off of their body hairs onto the sticky surface of the stigma.
How Bees Pollinate
- Pollination begins when a bees stops to gather food from a flower.
- Sticky pollen gets caught in the small hairs that are on the bee's body.
- Still foraging for food, the bee travels to another flower. Some of the pollen on the bee's body falls onto this new blossom.
- When pollen is transferred from one plant to another of the same species, it becomes possible for the blossom to produce fruit or vegetables.
What happens if pollination doesn't occur?
When pollinated, a fertilized flower will produce full-bodied fruit containing regenerative seeds. If no pollination occurs, the plant will lose its ability to reproduce and flower blossoms will wither away without producing fruit. Low levels of pollination can result in reduced yields, slower maturing/smaller fruit, and an increase in disease. If all pollination ceased to occur, eventually all flowering plants and the creatures that they support would disappear. That's how important pollination is!