The sight of a bee crawling over a flower and collecting pollen is a familiar one to all of us. What we may not realize, however, is that what we are witnessing is one of the most fascinating examples of give and take between trees and insects.
Just as animals depend on leaving healthy descendants behind so that their species will not die out, plants, flowers and trees rely on the cross-pollination carried out by bees and other insects to ensure the continuation of their own species.
Through time, adaptations in flowers have evolved to insure the process of cross-pollination. There are many distinct characteristics of “bee flowers,” those flowers which are pollinated by bees, which make them easily identifiable to the bee that visits them. First, due to the fact that bees fly by day, these flowers are open during the day. Second, these flowers have a distinct scent that will attract bees. Lastly, since bees possess a very keen color vision, most bee flowers are quite colorful to the bee’s eye. Pollination takes place when a bee travels from one flower to another.
As it crawls around the flower, it picks up pollen from the flower and drops off new pollen from the last flower it visited. This process repeats itself continually throughout each day. As it does, the vital ecological relationship between trees and bees is sustained.
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