Flowers and Bees
Bees pollinate a large variety of flowers, fruits and vegetables and form an essential element of our ecosystem. For centuries, humans have recognized the value of these busy little insects as an invaluable source of fruit and vegetable productivity.
Weeding is one of the more tedious jobs in the garden, but bees make no distinction between what we consider to be a beautiful flower or an ugly weed. Any plant in bloom that provides good quality pollen and nectar is irresistible to a bee.
Bees and flowers have been partners for a very long time. Flowers need bees for pollination and attract them with bright colours and distinctive fragrances. When a bee visits a flower, pllen collects on its legs and abdomen. As the insect buzzes from one flower to another, the pollen is transferred and helps to fertilize the plants, which then are able to produce seeds and multiply. Bees need flowers for pollen, which they use as a food source and also store it to survive the winter when there is little or no pollen available.
Various parts of a flower are involved in reproduction. A flower has both male and female parts. The female part is in the centre and comprises the ovary, style and stigma. The stigma is sticky and traps the pollen which drops off the bees. The pollen then germinates and travels down the style to the ovary where it combines with the gamete, the female germ cell, to produce a seed. The stamens are the male parts of the flower and are made up of a stem, called a filament which supports the anther at its top, which stores and produces pollen.
Although wind also carries pollen on the air, bees are far better pollinators as they fly directly from plant to plant.