If you have something to sell, you have to announce that fact to your future customers. This is also true with plants that rely on insects for pollination. To gain their services, what better method is there than for the plant to offer them food and drink. The flowers let the insects, their customers, know with eye-catching displays and delightful odors that the feast is ready. Most plants generously offer food, giving the insects enough for themselves and also for the rest of the household.
Among pollinators, bees are the most numerous. The flowers that attract them are generally brightly colored and fragrant.
These are the ones that usually appeal to us also. Bees are attracted to shades of yellow, blue, pink, white, purple and to a lesser degree red. Bees do not see red as we do, since it appears black to them, but they can see the yellow anthers within a red flower. SInce bees’ eyes are sensitive to ultraviolet light, they may see some colors and patterns invisible to us with the naked eye. To accommodate bees, many flowers offer them broadly spread petals as landing platforms, and some even mark the way to the nectar with stripes or bright spots.
Bees get a double reward from thier chosen flowers, for in addition to nectars, they get loads of pollen to take home to feed their young. As they go from flower to flower finding nectar, their fuzzy bodies become covered with pollen and they have to pause now and then to scrape the pollen off. They push the pollen into little baskets formed by brisrles on their hind legs. Watch bees at work sometimes and you might see some with the packed yellow masses near their knee joints. They really have quite a load by the time they are ready to fly back home.
Bees usually only visit one variety of flower on their trip from the hive. Sometimes they concentrate on one kind for days. This is how we get varietal honey such as Orange Blossom or Tupelo. As a result, very little pollen is wasted since what they deposit from flower to flower is the correct pollen for a particular plant’s pollination. So the lure of the beautiful flowers with sweet smelling nectar is good for the plants, the bees and us. Yum!