Module 1: Introduction to Pollination

Table of Contents

What is Pollination?

Pollination is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma (U.S. Forest Service 2021). Cross pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred from the another of a flower of one plant to the stigma of a flower of another plant. In order for effective pollination, pollinator possess many hairs,  can travel long distances and collect pollen while viable.

Why are Pollinators Important?

The diversity of pollinators is especially important in agriculture because the more diverse the pollinators, the higher the quality and quantity of fruit harvested. Farmers can better manage their pollinators by rotating their crops, reducing pesticide usage and reducing tillage.

Wild pollinators are declining globally and deforestation is a major contributor to this decline. Although information is scarce in the Caribbean region, there is a trend towards a reduction
in pollinator populations also.

Due to the crisis of pollinators across the world, humans plant less crops that depend on pollinators since a lack of pollinators is more likely to lead to a food shortage than a nutrition shortage.  Despite this, the number of managed beehives has been increasing globally. In order to maintain high biodiversity, high pollinator diversity is important.

Bees as Pollinators

Bees are important pollinators since it is estimated that they pollinate 80 percent of all flowering plants, including more than 130 types of fruits and vegetables (Randall, B. 2020). Honey bees are the most effective pollinators however, some flies have been known to be effective as well. Even though honey bees pollinate flowering plants, most are wind pollinated. Bats are also important pollinators of flowering plants and fruit trees. There are 20,000 bee species across the world.

Most native bees fly long distances for food. Bees collect pollen from flowers, which they carry in their pollen sacs. Pollen that is carried on the pollen baskets (or scopae) of bees is not useful for pollination.

Whereas honeybees produce honey, not all bees do. Unknownst to most people, most bee species nest in the ground, not in the trees as depicted in Winne The Pooh.

What are the Most Important Impacts on Pollinators?

Climate change, the use of pesticides and herbicides and habitat destruction are the most important and serious threats that are facing pollinators.

Honeybees in the Caribbean

HoneyBees are not native to the Caribbean region and most were brought in by European settlers to most of the islands. Within the Caribbean, there are sufficient policies in place to safeguard pollinators. However, more is needed to be done to conserve pollinators in the Caribbean.

References:

Randall, B.  NRCS Working Lands for Wildlife·Jun 22, 2020. https://www.farmers.gov/blog/conservation/value-birds-and-bees

U.S. Forest Service. 2021. What is pollination?  https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/What_is_Pollination/