In blossom time, day after day, honeybees forage from sunrise to sunset visiting the flowers. A honeybee collects nectar or pollen on one journey, never both at the same time. And though each flower is in turn plundered, the bee visits only one species at a time. The bee, clad with many delicate bristles and hair like processes, becomes covered with the mealy pollen of the flowers it visits, and entering flower after flower leaves bits of pollen wherever it goes. These pollen grains are vitally important to the flowers, for without them they would not be able to form their seeds.
The part of the flower that creates the pollen is the anther – the stamen’s tip. Before seeds can be formed, pollen must find its way to another part of the flower, called the stigma. The shifting of pollen from anther to stigma is called pollination. Some flowers are able to do this work for themselves, without any outside help. This process is called self-pollination. In cross-pollination the pollen must be carried from one flower to another. Sometimes the wind carries it; sometimes beetles carry it; but very often, as you may have noticed in gardens, fields and meadows, pollen is carried from flower to flower by honeybees. This is the great service that bees render to the flowers – full payment for the sweet liquid they have gathered from the nectaries and for every grain of pollen they have made into bee bread.