Introduction

Pollination is the transfer of pollen grains from the anther to the stigma of the same flower or another flower of the same plant or another plant but of the same species. In other words, pollination is  the mixing of the male and female parts of a flower. Pollination is a vital step in the reproduction of flowering plants and is necessary for all seed and fruit production.

Plants require pollen to be transferred from one plant to another and many depend upon insects to do this as they forage. Bees play a vital role in food production and overall agricultural productivity, as pollinators.

Pollination

Plants require pollen to be transferred from one plant to another to aid reproduction. This transfer of pollen grains is called pollination. It can be transfer from the anther to the stigma of the same flower or another flower of the same plant or another plant but of the same species. In other words, pollination is the mixing of the male and female parts of a flower. Pollination is therefore a vital step in the reproduction of flowering plants and is necessary for all seed and fruit production. Over 75% of all the crops in India benefit from insect pollination. Other agents of pollination are wind, animals, birds, water, man and reptiles Insects including bees forage plants for food, they visit many flowers a day in search of pollen and nectar.

Many flowering plants depend upon these insects for the pollen transfer (pollination) as they forage. Adequate insect pollination improves the quality of the crop; uneven, misshaped and small fruits are often indication that pollination has been insufficient. Among the insects, bees are considered the most efficient pollinators because they have hairy bodies which easily pick up pollen grains as they move about in flowers. During a single day one bee may visit several hundred flowers. Furthermore, bees are consistent foragers and tend to work one kind of flower at a time. Bee keeping training and extension manual, bee keeping India Scout bees will locate the best flowers and then encourage their hive mates to use the same source. Pollen from the anthers is trapped in hairs covering the bee and carried to the stigma of the same plant or another from the same species. This is the first step towards fertilization and the production of seeds and fruits.

Bees, therefore, play a vital role in food production and overall agricultural productivity, as pollinators. So beekeeping provides pollination services.

The worker bee visiting a flower, helping to pollinate the plant In some countries the economic value of pollination is higher than the value of honey. Beekeepers move their hives to different bee forages in order to maximize honey flow and to improve crop pollination.

In America, India and China pollination by bees is hired and fetches additional money to the beekeeper. Growers are willing to rent hives from beekeepers. Hives are placed near to the blooming crops (especially fruit and oil seed crops) and removed after flowering. Many beekeepers make money in this way and still have the honey from the hive. They end up with a double profit!

Bees are known to increase and improve the yields of avocado, coffee, cotton, sunflower, mandarin, onion, papaya, beans, mango, bananas, and many other cash crops. So bees are important to farmers. More bees mean better pollination and higher yields. If bees are killed, the value of crops is reduced. Therefore it is in everyone’s interest to maintain strong population of honeybees. Insecticides kill bees and contaminate hive products. Farmers can help by selecting and using the recommended pesticides with great care and never using pesticides when flowers are open. Foraging insects work on open blossoms and will be killed if sprayed at this time. If pesticides must be used, it is best sprayed early or late in the day when crop flowers are closed and there is no wind to drift the spray onto other flowers or hives. Farmers should always try to choose a pesticide that attacks the pest but will not harm bees. Beekeepers should teach others the value of pollination by insects. They should also educate neighbouring farmers about insecticides and their negative impact on the bee colony. Forest trees are also important bee forage and forests are essential for the survival of bees. No trees, no bees: no honey, no money. Conserving forest biodiversity is therefore important for beekeepers. 

There are commercially available and major sources of forage for bees to produce excellent honeys, and can flower all year round. The following are examples of such plants: black berry (Rubus argutus), calliandra (Callindra callothyrsus), Citrus (Citrus spp.) e.g. tangerine and orange, coffee (Coffea spp.), clover (Trifolium incarnatum), sunflower (Helianthus spp.), cotton (Gossypium spp.), mango (Mangifera indica), cashew (Anacadinaceae), neem (Azadirachita indica), eucalyptus (Eucalyptus sp.), banana (Musa sp.), bottle brush and passion fruit.

Bees forage on different flowers in different areas depending on what is available. Most plants flower only at certain times of the year but bees need food over many months, so a variety of plants must be available. It is a good idea to identify which plants bees feed on in your area. It is then possible to plant flowering plants around apiaries to ensure the bees have adequate forage when they need it. Wild plants should be allowed to grow wherever there is space, including by the side of roads, near houses and in between fields.

Produce a flowering calendar listing the flowers that are available each month of the year.

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