As most of us have already heard by now, the bumblebees around the world are disappearing at alarming rates. Being crucial pollinators, their dwindling numbers are a great cause of concern for the human race as they are immensely important for our crops.
As bee populations collapse, some have thought that other species of smaller bees can take over the work of the bumblebees. But that appears to be a false hope.
A team of researchers from University of Virginia tracked the grains of pollen transported away and the pollen deposited by bumblebees, a medium sized bee species, and two smaller bee species. They found that the bumblebees often left some pollen behind where it could fertilize the flowers and frequently visited the female phase of the flowers, improving the fertilization efficiency.
The smaller bees, on the other hand, took away pollen without succeeding to transfer it to the plants’ stigmas; as a result, their visits actually reduced the plants’ fertility.
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