The decline in bumblebee population has posed threat to the fertility of flowering plants. In a study, it shows that not all bees help in pollination. The pollinator bumblebees are solely good for this job. Though it is assumed that smaller bees will take over the work of bumblebees but it will actually rob the plants of pollen.
The pollens are an important source for the bees’ offspring so, they fail to transfer it from male to female parts of plants.
“We were surprised to find that some of the small pollinators were actually detrimental to the plants they visited, rather than beneficial,” says Matt Koski, the lead author in a team of University of Virginia and College of Wooster (Ohio). He is a biologist and he has studied the visits of several species of bees to plants ranging from Alabama to Minnesota.
We often hear the humming sound of the bumblebee but very little we know about the purpose. It is a secret tool for harvesting pollen. The plants usually stash their pollen away to make it difficult for bees to access. The high-frequency vibrations produced by the bumblebee effectively blast the pollen out of the storage where it gets attached to the bees’ fuzzy hairs.
The bumblebee, medium sized bee species, and two smaller species of bees were tracked by the UVA team to trace the grains of pollen transported away and pollens deposited. It was found that the bumblebees used to leave some pollen behind where it could fertilize the flowers, paying for their meals by helping the flowers to create seeds.
The bumblebees improved the fertilization efficiency by frequently visiting the female phase of the flowers. It was later observed that the smaller bees and medium-size bee acted as “pollen thieves.” The visited the flowers but failed to transfer it to transfer it to the plants’ stigmas. The plants have potentially lost their chances to successfully produce seeds reducing the plant’s fertility.
Hence, the study shows that it is essentially needed to conserve the bumblebee which is an important pollinator species of bee by protecting their habitat. The pesticide threats should be reduced and the climate change needs to be controlled.