Community Pollination Project
The Community Pollination Project uses research to investigate the associations between pollinators and plants, leading to a better ecological understanding of pollination that can be used in the management of crop, pasture and native plants and their pollinators. This project is aligned to the Oceania Pollinator Initiative.
Why are pollinators important?
Pollination is the process of transferring pollen from anther (male flower part) to stigma (female flower part). Without it, seeds and fruit will not be formed. Pollination can be achieved by wind or by using animals such as insects. One in three mouthfuls of the food we eat are the result of animal pollination. Examples include fruits such as strawberries, apples and figs, seeds such as beans and sunflower kernels, and nuts such as walnuts and chestnuts. Even salad plants need pollination to produce the seeds from which they are grown!
Many exotic plants are grown as crops in New Zealand, including; kiwifruit, apples, grapes, stone fruit and some seed crops. The exotic honeybee Apis mellifera is used for much of the commercial pollination that occurs in New Zealand, but bumblebees Bombus spp., drone flies Eristalis tenax, native bees, flies and other insects also pollinate crops.
The European Pollinator Initiative website lists crops for which the number of fruits and seeds and their quality are dependent upon, or enhanced by, insect pollination. Many of these crops are also grown in New Zealand.
A better understanding of the role played by different insects in pollination will help us manage our native plants and exotic crops more effectively.