This buzzing is a secret password.
The key to a lock.
What this bumblebee is after is pollen.
It’s high in protein.
But the flower doesn’t want to give it tojust anyone.
So it hides it away, in those bright yellowanthers… For a flower, that’s unusual.
Most flowers keep their pollen on the outsideof the anther.
Which is the male part of the flower.
Pollen is basically sperm, for plants.
Most flowers make sugary nectar, too.
They use it as bait to attract bees and other pollinators, which get coated in pollen along the way.
And since bees are messy, they inadvertentlyscatter some of that pollen onto the female part of the next flower they visit.
That’s how most flowers have sex.
But this type of flower doesn’t offer nectar.
The only way to get to its pollen is throughthose tiny pores at the ends.
But the bumblebee knows just what to do.
It wraps its legs around the flower and bitesdown on the anthers — that male part of the flower.
See those wings shaking? Normally, the bumblebee uses these powerfulmuscles to flap its wings.
That’s what makes the buzzing sound whenthey fly.
But here those muscles to vibrate its wholebody.
So hard and fast that it makes a louder, higherpitched buzz.
This vibration shakes up the pollen trappedinside the anthers, until.
It spews out, all over the bumblebee.
It’s called buzz pollination — and youdon’t need to a bumblebee to do it.
A tuning fork will do.
The bumblebee grooms the pollen down intosticky sacs on its legs… carries it back to the hive.
Only a few types of pollinators like bumblebeesare capable of buzz pollination.
Honeybees can’t do it.
This field is kind of a free for all.
Think: Las Vegas buffet.
Tons of food, but long lines, lots of competition.
is more like a private club.
By only permitting pollinators that know the secret knock, the flower ups the chances that its pollen will end up on flowers from the same club– the same species.
The bumblebee? Well sure it has to work alittle harder… and there’s no sweet nectar.
But it’s a reliable pollen stash that almostno one else has access to.
Tomatoes, potatoes, blueberries, all of theseneed buzz pollination to reproduce.
Much of the food we eat.
owes its existenceto that buzz.
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