In this activity, students explore how pollinators transfer pollen from plant to plant using homemade “bees”.
Pollination describes the transfer of pollen from the stamen of a flower to the stigma of a flower. Once pollen lands on the stigma, it travels and fertilizes the flower’s ovaries, allowing for seeds to develop.
Pollination is a mutually beneficial process between plants and animals. A pollinator comes to a flower in search of nectar to eat, and when the pollinator lands on a flower, pollen is transferred to their body. For example, as bumblebees buzz on a flower, they shake off pollen onto their bodies!
Bumblebees move from flower to flower and continually transferring old pollen onto a new flower, and pick up new pollen, as they search for a nectar meal. A pollinator benefits by getting food, and a flower benefits by getting new pollen to fertilize their ovaries and form seeds.
When pollinators move pollen from one plant to another it is called cross-pollination. Many plants rely on cross-pollination to develop seeds; without pollinators, some plants would be unable to reproduce and soon go extinct!
Note: It is best to do this activity in the Spring or Summer when flowers are blooming and pollen is easily accessible. Alternatively, you can use store-bought flowers, but use local varieties when possible.