Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sticky Sticky Pollen

The bee in the photo below has something stuck to its feet.  What is it?

Honeybee with milkweed pollinia stuck to its legs.

Those orange "blobs" are called pollinia.  Unlike most flowers that disperse their pollen as individual grains, Milkweed plants concentrate their pollen grains into two connected sacs (or pollinia).  When a pollinating insect lands on a Milkweed flower this sticky pair of pollinia (the whole structure is called a pollinarium) can easily become attached to the insects legs.  As the insect moves from one flower to another the poliinarium can become dislodged and pollinates the flower where it is left.

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