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The one thing I wish more people understood about flower pollination

Prof. Jeff Ollerton – ecological scientist and author : “…In both cases it seems to have been forgotten that bees are collecting pollen to feed their larvae and pollen that ends up in scopae is generally not available for pollination. That’s the purpose of the Venn diagram at the top of this short post, to remind us that there can be a disconnect between what bees are doing and what plants require: foraging for pollen only partly correlates with flower pollination. Indeed, the same argument applies to any animal that feeds itself or its young on pollen, including pollen wasps (Maserinae), Heliconia butterflies, and some flower-visiting hoverflies, birds and bats. It’s not only loss of pollen from reproduction that’s important here: depending on the size and behaviour of the bees relative to the shape and size of the flower, they may go nowhere near the stigma, so even if they are carrying viable pollen, it can be lost as far as the plant is concerned. Note also that many bee species will collect pollen from wind-pollinated plants such as grasses, oaks, etc. Indeed in some species the availability of such pollen is extremely important – see Manu Saunders’ review on this topic and more recent papers that cite it. Again, it emphasises the partial disconnect between pollen collecting by bees and pollination of flowers by bees…”

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