Why are pollinating insects important?

    Pollinating insects play a fundamental role in the ecosystem. Pollination is indeed a vital process for several reasons. Let's discover them together in this article, delving into some interesting curiosities, including the different mechanisms of pollination.
    Why are pollinating insects important?

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    The Pollination Process

    Pollination is a vital process that occurs in plants during their reproduction. This biological process involves the transfer of pollen from the anthers (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part). Once the pollen reaches the stigma, it initiates a process that leads to the formation of seeds, allowing the plant to reproduce, produce a new generation, and spread. But that's not all... Indeed, pollination influences several fundamental ecosystem services. Let's explore them together.

    Photosynthesis and Water Cycle Maintenance

    Photosynthesis: Plants transform solar energy, carbon dioxide, and water into glucose and oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. This process not only produces the oxygen that living beings breathe but also absorbs carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, contributing to the mitigation of global warming. Water cycle maintenance: Plants contribute to the regulation of the water cycle through the process of transpiration. Plant roots absorb water from the soil, which is then released into the atmosphere through the leaves. This helps maintain the water cycle and moderate the local climate.

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    Food production, shelter and habitat

    - Food production: many of the foods we consume daily, such as fruit, vegetables and nuts, are the direct result of pollination. In addition, seeds produced through pollination are an essential part of the diet of many animal species. Without pollination, food production would be drastically reduced, affecting food security and the diversity of human diets. - Shelter and habitat: plants provide shelter and habitat for a wide variety of animal species. From forests to meadows, different types of vegetation are home to different animal communities, providing food, shelter and breeding grounds. With this in mind, 3Bee has created the Biodiversity Oasis project: urban and agroforestry protection areas with refuges for pollinators and native flora. Places certified by technology and with a traceable impact, cared for by 3Bee's biodiversity farmers.

    Pollination and Biodiversity

    Pollination, therefore, holds fundamental importance for biodiversity; without it, many plants would not be able to provide these essential services. This could trigger a cascade of negative effects on the entire ecosystem, causing a loss of diversity and instability in natural balances. Just like biodiversity, pollination manifests in a multitude of forms, each with its unique characteristics that synergistically contribute to maintaining the natural balance. In the following paragraphs, we will explore the different types of pollination and their importance, both for the survival of individual plant species and for the well-being of the entire ecosystem.

    Self-Pollination

    Self-pollination is a process where pollen from the male part of the plant is transferred directly to the female part of the same plant or other plants of the same species. This mechanism can occur in various ways, such as self-fertilization, where pollen fertilizes the ovules within the same flower, or apomixis, where the plant produces seeds without fertilization. Self-pollination ensures reproduction even in the absence of pollinators, but leads to less genetic diversity within the population, as there is no exchange of genes between individuals.

    Cross-Pollination

    Cross-pollination, on the other hand, occurs when pollen is transferred from the male parts to the female parts of different plants of the same species or of different species. This type of pollination promotes the mixing of genes, thus contributing to genetic diversity and the creation of new genetic combinations. It is an essential process for the survival of plants, as it enhances disease resistance, adaptability to the environment, and variability of species characteristics.

    Anemophilous, Hydrophilous, and Zoophilous Pollination

    Depending on the pollination mechanism, different agents are involved: Anemophilous Pollination: In this case, pollen is transported by the wind. Anemophilous plants produce large amounts of light and easily transportable pollen, which is dispersed into the air. Hydrophilous Pollination: Here, pollen is transported by water. This primarily occurs in aquatic plants, such as water lilies and algae, which produce pollen that floats on the water's surface. Zoophilous Pollination: This type of pollination involves animals as pollen transport agents. Insects are the main pollinators, but some birds, like hummingbirds, and some mammals, like bats, also participate.

    Economy and food chain: the role of pollinators

    Pollinators, especially insects such as bees and butterflies, are essential for plant fertility and diversity because they contribute to the reproduction of about 90 per cent of the world's wild plant species, highlighting their crucial role in maintaining biodiversity. Pollinators also provide food for numerous animals, including birds and mammals. The loss of pollinators could therefore have cascading effects on other members of the food chain, destabilising entire ecosystems. It is important to remember that about 75% of food crops globally depend at least in part on zoogamous pollination. This includes fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and oils. Finally, the economic value of pollination is estimated in billions of dollars each year. In 2005, for example, it was 153 billion: 9.5% of the total value of global agricultural production for human food.

    Human health and ecosystems: the role of pollinators

    Pollinators also play an important role in human health and our well-being. They are in fact fundamental to our diet, participating in the production of a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Diets rich in these resources are associated with better health and prevention of many chronic diseases. Furthermore, many medicines are derived from plants that require pollination for their reproduction and survival. Without them, access to these essential medicines could become more difficult and expensive. Finally, the presence of a variety of pollinators can increase the resilience of ecosystems in the face of environmental changes. This is because different pollinator species may respond differently to changes, ensuring that at least some pollinators are always present. At 3Bee, we recognise the fundamental role of pollinating insects: our mission is to protect them through technology.

    "Voices from the Oases": 3Bee's playlist for biodiversity

    In anticipation of World Habitat Day 2023, 3Bee is launching "Voices from the Oases," the first and only playlist available on Spotify, dedicated to the preservation of biodiversity by playing the unique sounds of pollinators recorded by our proprietary technology, Spectrum. The project is accompanied by a special campaign that 3Bee has organized with the support of Metro 5 Milan: in the Milano Porta Garibaldi and Lotto stations, until October 15, 2023, there will be over 50 billboards entirely dedicated to pollinating insects, the precious guardians of biodiversity. Travelers will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a true musical exhibition dedicated to the theme, symbolizing an urgent call to action to protect our fragile ecosystem. Biodiversity loss is indeed an urgent emergency to address precisely because it is not monitored.

    By Elena FraccaroNovember 11, 2023
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