Although many people think they fully understand all there is to know about bees and pollen, that is often not the case. In fact, the relationship between bees and pollen is far more complex than the average person realizes. Luckily, just because many people don’t yet understand, doesn’t mean they never will. With that in mind, the following is an overview of the relationship between bees and pollen, as well as how it affects the collective.
The Purpose of Pollen Collection
Most people know that bees collect pollen. However, many people do not fully understand why that is. For instance, many people do not know that pollen is the main source of protein for bees. This is because bees do not feast on other insects, unlike many of their counterparts. So, if they are unable to collect pollen, bees are likely to deal with nutrient deficiencies, which can cause an array of health issues. Moreover, the protein allows babies bees to grow more rapidly, so they can leave the hive. Therefore, without pollen, their entire ecosystem will be disrupted.
The most useful among them, worker bees, are extremely active during their busy season. Due to this, their life span is usually only around 6 weeks. Worker bees are in charge of tasks such as taking care of babies bees, hunting for food, cleaning, and more. Without enough worker bees, the entire hive would be in disarray. Pollen is important to help young worker bees grow into adults, so they can continue to take care of the hive.
From a human standpoint, one of the most important jobs of honey bees is that of pollination. However, bees are only pollinating the flowers by default and are not even aware that they are doing it. This is because when honey bees visit flowers, they get pollen stuck to their wings, legs, and hair. As they continue to visit flowers, this pollen falls off and helps to pollinate other flowers. This aids in flower pollination, which is helpful to various species of plants and flowers. So, although they are not doing it on purpose, bees are an intricate parts of the human ecosystem and food chain as well.
As mentioned, although it is believed that bees are meant to collect pollen to pollinate flowers, in all actuality, they are actually in search of their own food and nectar. Once a bee finds a flower to collect pollen and nectar from, they start collecting their food. Lucky for us, during the process, the pollen naturally sticks to their legs, wings, and more. However, for their own purposes, they collect the pollen and store it in structures known as pollen baskets, also known as corbiculae. This pollen is then mixed with saliva and nectar, and brought back to their hive. This mixture is then dropped of to the developing larvae back at the hive. The baby bees then consume this mixture to help them continue to grow and become big and strong. The rest can be given to drones and the queen bee.
More About Pollination
Every flower has a male and female part. The female part, or the pistil is sticky, as it is meant to attract pollen for pollination. This is to help aid in their survival, since flowers cannot move and are unable to collect pollen for themselves.
This is where the bee heroes come into play. Without even knowing it, the bees come along and ensure that flowers receive the pollen they need to survive and reproduce. As each bees goes from flower to flower collecting pollen, they leave some of the pollen behind. This allows pollen to go from the male part of the flower to the female part of the flower, which is how pollination actually occurs for flowers. Without the help of bees, this process would be next to impossible. Even with the help of humans and machines, it would be very difficult for the process to be completed. However, with the help of bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and other insects and small animals, the process is all but automated.
The World Needs Pollen to Survive
Not only do bees need pollen to survive, but so does the rest of the world. Without pollen, bees will not be able to feed themselves, which means our automated pollination system would come to a screeching halt. Since this is intricately involved in our ecosystem, bees are literally essential to the survival of virtually all living things. So, although they may seem a bit scary (especially when in groups), bees are necessary for humanity.
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