“Not a single bee has ever sent you an invoice. And that is part of the problem – because most of what comes to us from nature is free, because it is not invoiced, because it is not priced, because it is not traded in markets, we tend to ignore it.”
- Pavan Sukhdev, United Nations report, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
What is Pollination?
Pollination occurs when the pollen grains from a flower’s anther comes in contact with the sticky stigma in its center. This process can occur on the same flower (self-pollination) or between two different flowers of the same species (cross-pollination). Cross-pollination allows for more variety within the next generation, better adaptations to changing environments, and better protection against diseases.
What are Pollinators?
Some bees have a structure on their hind legs called a pollen basket, or “corbicula”. These areas have long stiff hairs to collect and transport pollen.
Bees and butterflies are probably the best-known pollinators, but they aren’t the only ones; moths, beetles, hummingbirds and more also help with this process, though each may have a preference for certain types of flowers.
Cross-pollination is an extremely important process both in nature and in agriculture for the healthy proliferation of plants and crops all over the world. Did you know that pollinators are responsible for a third of our food supply?
Why Are Pollinators at Risk?
- Nutrient and habitat loss due to development
- Pests and diseases
- Pesticide exposure
- Climate change
These combined environmental challenges have caused many pollinator groups to suffer severe losses in the last few decades, and in turn, has initiated concern about the future balance of our ecosystems and pollinator-dependent agriculture.