Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Bees, the Pollinators

At the side of my house there grows a wild fast growing but rather small size tree with a soft wood called “mansanitas” or small apple. But its fruit is in no way related to the real apple. It has very small succulent fruit with many soft seeds and a skin that is colored red to purple when ripe. Although the fruit is sweet and edible, it is mostly a treat for animals. Only few kids eat the fruits as a sort of playful activity rather than to fill themselves with it. Adults completely ignore the fruit.

Because of its flowers, the tree has attracted insects particularly bees that search for foods. Bees and other insects are some of the agents of pollination. Others include man, rain and wind. The bees in the tree are busy particularly in the morning when they fly into flower and sip its nectar. Pollen grains stick to a bee's legs and body as it brushes the anther of the flower. As the bees fly from one flower to another some of the pollen are dropped into the stigma of a flower. A tube then grows down from the stigma into the ovule. This will cause the ovary of the flower to be fertilized by the male cells that comes from the pollen. Fertilized ovary grows in size and develops into a fruit.

In most cases the pollen of a flower is transferred by the bees to another flower of the same plant or to another flower of another plant of the same species. A fruit that develops in the latter situation will have a healthy offspring. A flower that is fertilized by its own pollen or a flower that is fertilized from pollen of another flower of the same plant could result in an inferior seeds or offspring that are incapable of surviving a harsh environment or weather. Some plants have a built in system to prevent self pollination by having stigmas that reject pollen coming from the same flower.

Some plants that are very small like grasses are pollinated by the wind. Dry minute pollen of some grasses are blown away and fertilize the ovule of flower of other distant grasses of the same species.

Plants make themselves conspicuous with their beautiful colored flowers to attract pollinators. Other plants that have dull colored flowers make up for their deficiencies by emitting a fragrant scent especially in the evening. That kind of plants will give a nice ambiance at night with their pleasant smell so that it seems that the surrounding is sprayed with perfume.

The scene of the tree by my house is a sort of community of several species of animals that share a common purpose to sustain themselves. The process of pollination is a way on which the bees can feed themselves and produce their own offspring. For the tree, it is a means by which it can reproduce itself when fruits are developed as a result of pollination. Discarded seeds are scattered on the ground after the fruits are consumed by man and animals. The seeds in turn develop into new plants thus continuing the tree’s life cycle.  Because of pollination man and animals are able to have foods such as vegetables and fruits. Without it they could not have sustained their life on earth.