POLLINATORS OF KENYA
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin
Humans and Animals rely on pollinators for the crucial role they play in the life cycle of plants. Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma.
A pollinator is an an animal that transports the pollen from one part of the plant to another.
Pollinators of Kenya is an advocacy arm of Gardenology Kenya which seeks to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators.
i am a pollinator
I Am A Pollinator is a citizen-led campaign to raise awareness of the importance of the preservation of pollinators.
study pollination, love pollination
You don’t have to be a scientist to understand the value of pollination. Take a walk outside and look at the flowers or fruits growing. Beautiful right ? If you are a gardener you need pollinators for successful production of your crops.
bees pollinate but so do other insects and animals
Often times when people think pollinators, they think of bees. Bees are indeed an important species in the pollinator however there are many other insects and animals such as bats, birds, moths, flies (yeah, imagine that) involved in this ecosystem.
A light wind swept over the corn, and all nature laughed in the sunshine.
Butterflies are always a joy to encounter. They are always so majestic and beautiful. It is said that Butterflies love to land on flat or large flowers to feed though they are known to mostly pollinate red flowers with short tubes.
Moths pollinate flowers which have a strong fragrance which is often released at night. Nocturnal Moths known as Hawkmoths use their ‘extra long’ tongues to access the nector in the flowers.
Do you like Paw Paws or Orchids ? These are some of the fruit and flowers pollinated by Hawkmoths.
Amazing Fact: Approximately 4% of all plants in Kenya are pollinated by the Hawkmoths. So before you go swatting them at night, think of that sweet paw paw 🙂
Bees, wasps and ants are insects that belong to the insect group known as Hymenoptera.
Did you know there are over 200,000 species of bees in the world ? All with different physical and behaviour traits. Amazing huh ?
In East Africa we mostly have Carpenter Bees, Stingless Bees, Longhorn Bees, Honeybees, Amegilla Bees and Leafcutter Bees.
Amazing Fact: Approximately two thirds of fruit and vegetables grown in East Africa are pollinated by these wild bees.
Have you ever seen the glorious African Sausage Tree aka Kigelia Africana ? This amazing tree is one of the many whose flowers are pollinated by Bats. I had a new found respect for Bats when I discovered this even though I still fear them.
Bats are mammals that feed at night. They pollinate flowers which contain nectar and have a fruity scent.
Amazing Fact: If you love mangoes and bananas, then you need to love bats too !!
A garden without a pollinator, is a garden without life.
Beetles are a special kind of pollinator. According to Discover Pollinators, some beetles developed a special type of relationship with plants before Bees came into the pollination scene. This makes Beetles important pollinators in some habitats where bees are scarce.
Amazing Fact: Palm trees and Cycads are pollinated by beetles.
Sunbirds are small colourful birds with long curved beaks. They tend to pollinate red or orange flowers which contain sugary nectar.
Amazing Fact: If you have Aloes in your garden, then it is very likely Sunbirds will visit to pollinate !
Ants are one of the most meticulous insects on the planet. Have you ever seen how much time they take keeping clean ? Whilst this is rather admirable, it does not make them the greatest pollinators. This is because in the process of keeping clean, they will also get rid of the pollen mid destination. That said, they are still a very important species in the pollination ecosystem because as they visit flowers for nectar, they hunt other herbivorous insects that feed on the plants.
Ants protect the plants which then provides for opportunities for other effective pollinators to visit and do their thing.
Amazing Fact: Ants are good at pollinating low ground growing succulent plants.
There are over 150,000 types (or species) of flies on the planet. Did you know those “annoying” houseflies and bluebottles are important pollinators for fruits like Avocado and Mango ?
Amazing Fact: Cacao trees, the most important plant from which we get Chocolate can only be pollinated by specialized tiny “true” flies.
Wasps and Figwasps
The best of us find Wasps scary because they sting. But Wasps are important pollinators in that they carry pollen as they move from flower to flower.
Wasps play an important role in the ecological landscape as they are predatory and they act as natural pest control since they capture insects which would be otherwise harmful to plants.
Amazing Fact: Many Fig tree species in East Africa are pollinated by the figwasp. Infact the tree cannot survive without the figwasp and vice versa. Males figwasps do not leave the figtree they are born in.