Pollination is a necessary part of the lifecycle of flowering plants, so it is really important!
Around the world, about 80% of crop species that we eat are pollinated by animals. Without these pollinators, the crops that people need to survive would not be able to grow.
Some of our key oil plants are pollinated by animals – sunflowers, canola, rapeseed, and palm to name a few.
Almost all fruit and grain crops require animal pollinators. Fruiting plants including apple, pear, cherry, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, plums and many more all require pollinators! Look out for which insects are frequenting blossom this spring.
Without these natural pollinators, a huge amount of money and time would need to be spent on using artificial methods of pollination. These methods are already being used in some parts of the world where pollinator numbers are declining.
Pollen can be transferred by hand using a paintbrush between individual flowers – this is known as hand pollination.
Artificial pollination can also be carried out mechanically, using machines. For example, cherry crops are pollinated by collecting pollen, mixing it with water, then having a machine spray this mixture over the plants. Almond plants are also pollinated mechanically in many regions.
However, these methods of artificial pollination are much less time-efficient and far more expensive that relying on natural pollinators, so we should be doing more to protect the pollinators which we have, and help boost their numbers.