You probably know that bees collect pollen and nectar. But, do you know why bees require these valuable resources and have you ever wondered how bees transport them from one place to another?
What Is Pollen?
Pollen is a yellow, fine and sticky residue that is found on male flower parts, also known as the stamens. Pollen has two functions. It serves as a bee's primary source of protein and plays a crucial part in their reproduction.
How is the pollen carried by the bees?
When a bee (the pollinator) lands on a flower it covers itself in the flower's pollen, so that the pollen can be transported with the bee as it flies to the next flower. Honeybees use their moistened hairs on their front legs to brush the pollen towards their back legs where they hold structures which look like little pollen baskets. The pollen baskets allow the bee to tightly compress as much pollen as possible before setting off. Interestingly, a bee's pollen baskets are only visible to the naked eye once they are filled.
Contrary to popular belief that the honeybee is the best pollinator all our plants, flowers and trees, the solitary bee is in fact the most effective and the most efficient pollinator. This is because solitary bees have an even better 'pollen carrying' design than honeybees. Instead of pollen baskets, solitary bees have more hairs on their underside of their body which allow them to drop more pollen onto the flowers as they fly.
How Does Pollination Work?
Once the pollen reaches the flower, it's transferred to the stigma (the female part of the flower). It is at this moment that the plant is fertilised and the seeds are created.
Did you know! A worker bee will visit between 50 and 100 flowers on each flight, and to produce just one pound of honey, workers will need to collectively visit 2 million flowers!
What Is Nectar?
Nectar is the critical component that creates honey. It is a sugary liquid filled with carbohydrates making it an important source of energy that bees require to fly. In fact, nectar is so important that bees can only survive for 24 hours without it (that is, unless they are hibernating).
Nectar is also used to lure bees in and reward them for their efforts in pollination. This is why nectar is sweet to taste and and has a strong smell.
Bee use nectar to turn into honey, and we then use their honey to make our delicious honey spirits.