|The bright yellow pollen of a Mallow flower.|
|An insect rests on a California Poppy.|
|A Centris female, with full pollen loads (success!)|
From the plant’s point of view, female bees are a bit of a conundrum. They represent the best transporters of precious pollen grains—they are the most likely pollinators to visit consecutive flowers of the same species, and they move quickly, therefore shuffling a large number of pollen grains between flowers every day. At the same time, they are thieves, and the majority of pollen handled by female bees is lost to the flowers. As a result, flowers have had to evolve devious ways of manipulating bees—encouraging them to visit, but hurrying them on their way before they’ve done too much damage.
|The many colors, shapes, and scents of|
flowers are meant to draw in
|A Xylocopa steals nectar from a flower whose corolla is too|
narrow for its burly body.
Are bees important pollinators? No doubt. Perhaps THE most important, from the point of view of the majority of the world's flowers. Nonetheless, their services come at a hefty price to the flower, seen most clearly in the amazing variety of shapes, colors, and scents on display in any flower patch.