Showing 7 posts tagged pollination

As honey bee populations decline (from pesticide and fungicide use, parasites, and a mix of other factors), scientists like entomologist Claudio Gratton are exploring the exciting idea of pollinating our plants and crops in an “alternative” way: native bees.

“There’s a lot of other pollinators out there,” explains Gratton. The 500 or 600 wild bee species that live in Wisconsin are only a fraction of the 4,000 native to the United States. But because they tend to be solitary, aren’t easily managed, and don’t produce honey, they’ve mostly flown under the radar.

In this video from KQED’s QUEST, learn about these native bee populations and how we can support them by planting pollinator-friendly gardens and championing farms that pollinate with native bee habitats.

Related watching: It’s Okay to Be Smart’s How Bees See the Invisible, and the incredible Hidden Beauty of Pollination.

The plant with the largest inflorescence (cluster of flowers on a stem) also happens to be one of the stinkiest. Meet the rare titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), otherwise known as the corpse flower, which can be smelled from miles away to attract insects like dung beetles and fliesThe American Chemical Society’s Bytesize Science series made a video to explain the chemistry of the corpse flower’s stink.

This plant giant has been the news because one just opened for three days in Washington DC at the United States Botanic Garden Conservatory, having last bloomed in 2007. It was eight feet tall. Watch a time lapse of it opening:

Richard Feynman - Ode To A Flower, an animation from Fraser Davidson. The quote, by Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman, was given in 1981 when he was interviewed on the BBC. The full quote is below: 

I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. Then he says “I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,” and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe, although I might not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is, I can appreciate the beauty of a flower.

At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.

via Mental Floss.