The Importance Of The Symbiotic Relationship of The Bee And The Flower
The symbiotic relationship between bees and flowers is beautiful, complex, and beneficial to all of mankind. In biology, a symbiotic relationship is one where one of the parties in the relationship benefits. When it comes to bees and flowers everyone benefits. Flowers, bees, humans, and many other animals as well.
The Benefit For Bees
While there are some solitary species of bees, such as the carpenter bee, most bees live in large colonies. These colonies either consist of a single female and single generation of bees or multiple generations of bees with a solitary queen bee.
In either scenario, there are still a lot of offspring to feed. What do bees feed to their offspring? Pollen, which is a great source of protein. Excluding honey, pollen is the only other source of food for bees.
Bees land on flowers and attract the pollen in different ways. Many bees use an electrostatic force to attract the pollen that is then pushed into specialized areas of the body where it is held until they deliver it to their colony.
Bees also benefit by the collection of nectar. Nectar is a particularly sweet mixture of plant sugars and water. It works as a source of energy for the bee. The nectar provides enough energy for the bee to allow it to continue its laborious task.
The Benefit For Flowers
Most bees focus on a particular species of plant at any given time. As they travel from one flower to another to gather this pollen, some of it falls from their body onto female flowers of the same species. This is known as cross-pollination.
Cross-pollination results in the fertilization of the female plant. Fertilization is required for the production of seeds. Seeds result in the continuation of a species. Pollination by bees is required for certain plant life to survive.
The Benefit For Humans
Though humans are not a direct party in this symbiotic relationship, we all still benefit greatly from it. A 2007 study revealed that at least 70 plants of the 98 plants tested depended at least moderately on pollination from insects, primarily bees.(http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing./…274/1608/303) The plants tested here were only plants traded regularly in the world market that were not solely reliant on self-pollination or wind-pollination.
That study alone shows that at least two thirds of the plants people buy, sell, and eat that do not rely on self-pollination are very reliant on bees to survive. Several other studies have been performed on the subject with varying results.
A second study showed that some commonly eaten plants, including apples, melons, and blueberries, were 90 percent dependent on bees for pollination and survival. The almond, in particular, depended entirely on bees for pollination when it was time to bloom. (http://www.abfnet.org/?…)
Gauging the exact impact bee pollination has on humankind is difficult, though. Some plants that are pollinated by bees can still receive pollination through other methods. Still, there is no denying that bees play a substantial role in the survival of plant life and thus, the survival of mankind.
Their importance extends beyond just flowers like daisies, sunflowers, and roses. Bees pollinate the very crops that humans eat on a daily basis. Many farmers keep beehives in designated areas on their property specifically for pollination.
The Future Of Bees And Humans
Bees play such an important role that their future may be closely tied with the future of humans. If bees suffer a drop in numbers, it will no doubt have an impact on plant life everywhere, ranging from scenic flowers to edible crops. Both of which will make the world a more difficult place to live.
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