We all know that pollination takes place when a bee carries pollen from the anther of one flower to the stigma of another. Close observation reveals that the pollen clings to the sticky hairs on the bee’s body and is rubbed off as the bee flies from one blossom to another. The flowers in this and other photographs are Cosmos.
In addition to pollinating plants, bees collect pollen to take to their hives for food. The large orange-yellow bulges on the hind legs of this bee looks as though it is carrying baskets for this purpose – much as we would use a shopping basket.
These baskets or pollen sacs are known as the corbicula, which are made up of hairs blended together to form a concave shape. Once a bee has visited a flower it begins a grooming process during which the pollen that has gathered on the body is brushed down towards the hind legs and packed into the pollen baskets mixed with a little nectar.