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FAO's Global Action on Pollination Services for Sustainable Agriculture

Shaking up pollination: Buzzing around


Many important crops: tomatoes, chili peppers, and blueberries, to name just a few, have a special pollination need, called “buzz pollination”. They store their pollen in enclosed anthers that have a small opening at the tip. A bee must land on the anther and vibrate its wings to cause a vibration (a “buzz”) at a certain frequency, upon which the pollen is shaken out of the anthers in a small puff. Not all bees are capable of doing this….generally it takes a large sturdy bee to vibrate the flower sufficiently fast. In greenhouses, for many years, tomato flowers had to be vibrated by hand (often using a musical tuning fork), but now specialized bees are used, such as bumblebees in Europe, and blue-banded bees in Australia.