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A leaf cutter bee ( Megachile ) approaching a borage flower ( Borago officinalis ).
Queen of the garden bumblebee ( Bombus hortorum ) on a brush flower.
Inside of the hind leg of the western honey bee ( Apis mellifera ) with the brush to collect the pollen.

As Melittophilie the adaptation of plants to which is pollination by bees and bumble bees ( Apoidea ) denotes, the flowers are as Immenblumen designated. A further distinction is made between two types; the bee flowers and the bumblebee flowers .

Melittophilia is a special form of insect pollination ( entomophilia ). One can still distinguish between small (micromelittophilia) and large types.

A special sub-form is the pollination of the oil bees , which have specialized in collecting fatty or essential oils from so-called oil and perfume flowers . This also includes the magnificent bees (euglossini), which pollinate perfume flowers , this is known as euglossophilia , it is divided into andro (only the males) and gynandro euglossophilia (males and females). The only representatives of the oil bees in German-speaking countries are the species of the genus Macropis , for example Macropis europaea ( Melittidae ).

The majority of pollinators, at least in Central Europe, are real bees , including bumblebees . In addition, the leafcutter bees ( Megachilidae ), Andrenidae (including the sand bees of the genus Andrena ), the narrow and furrow bees ( Halictidae ), the Melittidae and the Colletidae respond to meliottophile flowers.

In terms of the location of the collecting apparatus (basket), a distinction is made between stomach and leg collectors (splint and thigh collectors), as well as mouth or crop collectors (the female brushes the pollen to be transported from the flower with a bristle comb and swallows it under).

The bee flower syndrome includes the following adaptations:

  • The flowers are bell, throat, mask, lip, flag, short stem plate and brush flowers.
  • The nectar is hidden up to 15 millimeters deep in tubes that are significantly narrower than the insect's body.
  • The flowers are yellow, blue or white and have flower marks : structures that are visible in the UV range, i.e. for bees, but not for humans.
  • The flowers often smell and are pleasant to humans (perfume scent, honey scent).

The trunk of the bees and bumblebees is usually 4 to 15 millimeters long, and the nectar is usually concealed at the same depth. Bees with short trunks, such as sand bees, often visit fly flowers , which are adapted to similarly short-nosed hover flies.


Bee flowers especially make many representatives of the families Pea (Faboideae), mint (Lamiaceae), Rachenblütler (Scrophulariaceae), Borage Family (Boraginaceae), Bellflower Family (Campanulaceae), and adapted to a wide circle of pollinators daisy family (Asteraceae) and Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) .

Several pollination mechanisms have developed within the butterfly-family with their flag flowers :

  • With the folding mechanism, the bee pushes the articulated boat down and is touched by the anthers on the belly side. One example is the seed sasparsette ( Onobrychis viciifolia ).
  • In other species, the pollen is first dumped on the hair of the stylus (stylus brush, "pollen presenter") (secondary pollen presentation) and from here it is transferred to the pollinator when the flowers are visited. Examples are the grass pea ( Lathyrus ) and vetch ( Vicia ).
  • In some clans, the end of the boat is transformed into a long cannula, at the tip of which the pollen previously emptied emerges in portions when it is pressed down (secondary pollen presentation). This pump or noodle syringe mechanism occurs in lupines ( Lupinus ), Restharrow ( Ononis ) and horn clover ( lotus ).
  • Rapid or explosion mechanisms only work once: here the stamens and the stylus are stretched downwards and fixed in this position by gluing and tensioning on the shuttle . When pressing down, or sideways the walls push the boat by the visitor is solved fixation, the stamens quick upward. Examples are Spartium junceum and snail clover ( Medicago ). In the broom broom ( Sarothamnus scoparius ), the five shorter stamens shoot up when the pressure is applied lightly, and the five longer stamens and the style when the pressure is increased.


  • Peter Leins: blossom and fruit. Morphology, history of development, phylogeny, function, ecology. E. Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-510-65194-4 , pp. 219, 227-232.

Individual evidence

  1. a b O. von Kirchner : Flowers and insects. Teubner, 1911, p. 228 f, , Salzwasser, 2012, ISBN 978-3-86444-533-0 (reprint).
  2. Wolfgang Frey , Rainer Lösch : Geobotany. 3. Edition. Springer, 2010, 2014, ISBN 978-3-662-45280-6 , p. 323.
  3. ^ IM Turner: The Ecology of Trees in the Tropical Rain Forest. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2001, ISBN 0-521-80183-4 , p. 131.
  4. Joachim W. Kadereit, K. Kubitzki: The Families and Generas of Vascular Plants. Vol.VII: Flowering Plants - Dicotyledons , Springer, 2004, ISBN 978-3-642-62200-7 , p. 82.
  5. Specialists for flower oils In: ADIZ . 9, 2011, p. 30 f, (PDF; 315 kB), on, accessed on October 8, 2017.
  6. Peter Leins, Claudia Erbar: Blossom and Fruit. 2nd Edition. E.Schweizerbart´sche Verlagbuchhandlung, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-510-66046-9 , p. 226.
  7. ^ H. Bischoff: Biology of the Hymenoptera. Springer, 1927, ISBN 978-3-642-50535-5 (reprint), p. 379.