Honeybees and pollination
Although the main reason of bee keeping is honey production, pollination forms the principal part in terms of economics. Pollination – is the transfer of pollen grains from the male flower part (anther) to the female flower part (stigma). Of all the insects, bees are the most pronounced pollination agents. Most commercial crops depend on honey bee for pollination.
Honeybee’s have adaptations that makes them efficient pollinators.
The following characters make honeybees effective pollinating agents: -
- High Population – honeybee colony comprises of around 70,000 insects. Such a large number of insects can carry out pollination effectively considering that workers that forage form the majority. The hive can hence be located where pollination is necessary.
- Body Warming Ability – the honeybee can actively work in low temperatures and they can work on a wide range of conditions.
- Long Tongue – the honeybee has a long tongue which enables it to collect nectar from various types’ of flowers with different location depths.
- One Flower Steadiness – while foraging, honeybees collect pollen or nectar from one specific plant it started with on that day. This makes pollination of that particular crop to be more efficient.
- All Season’s Activity – honeybees are active all year round and therefore they can pollinate crops that flower in different seasons in a year.
- Exterior Hair Coverage – honeybees are covered by hair all over their body. These hairs attract pollen grains and make them effective pollinators as they move from one flower to another.
- Efficient Communication – bees can communicate efficiently on the feed position (bearing) and distance from hive.
- High Visiting Frequency – compared to other insects, honeybees visit flowers to not necessarily collect food but also collection of storage elements for nutrition.
- Movement speed – bees can move at high speed hence visit many flowers per day than most other insects.
Without bees, fruit and seed formation of most cultivated crops will not be possible. Insect pollinated flowers produce sticky pollen grains which easily attaches on the insect body. In addition this plants produce nectar to increase insect attraction. Nectar is a source of carbohydrates for insects and pollen grains is a source of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fats.