Bees and other pollinators are truly incredible creatures– having evolved symbiotically with plants, pollinators perform a crucial role in many plants’ reproduction. In fact, 90 percent of plants require pollinators to reproduce.
Pollination is the act of moving pollen between the male and female parts of a flower in the same species. This is vital for the life cycle of all flowering plants, and necessary in seed and fruit production.
Bees are the most effective of all pollinators as they feed exclusively on flowers. Whilst undertaking the act of pollination, flowers reciprocally reward bees with nectar or pollen (and sometimes both).
And they come in all shapes and sizes! In Australia, we have more than 1,500 species of native bees, and there are around 19,000 worldwide.
Many plants have evolved so that their shape reflects the type of pollinator they require for reproduction. For example, plants where the pollen is contained in tubes—such as the Solanaceae family (eg tomatoes)—require the blue banded, carpenter and teddy bees’ unique “buzz pollination”– they hold onto the flower with their jaws and vibrate with their wings to dislodge the pollen from the flower’s anthers.
Some plants have long, tubular flowers for bees with long tongues, and other flowers are suited to bees with short tongues, such as native cut-leaf daisy (brachyscome) and stingless bees.
30 percent of the world’s food production depends upon pollinators. Without pollinators, we may be forced to pollinate plants by hand, or it may mean trucking hives of bees by the thousands for a successful crop.
This is already happening in many parts of the world where there are pollinator deserts due to lack of diversity of available nectar and pollen, destruction of habitat, pollution of waterways, and increase in the use of pesticides, insecticides and herbicides (which can be neurotoxic to bees and other pollinators).
Not only are pollinators important in our agricultural system, many are also tasty morsels for birds and small mammals, which require pollinator-protein to survive.
The decline of pollinators can mean a negative upwards affect in the food chain. All creatures are important, great and small– from the humble bee to the great wedge-tailed eagle, and human-kind. We all depend on pollinators for diversity in our diets.
If you are interested in attracting pollinators to your garden, you may be interested in the Flow Pollinator House. It's designed to support native solitary-nesting bees and created from upcycled Flow Hive timber offcuts. And best of all, 100% of profits from its sale is donated to charities that support habitat protection.