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Many insects play an important role in the pollination of plants

The most common pollinator of garden plants is the humble honeybee. Picture: Shutterstock.
The most common pollinator of garden plants is the humble honeybee. Picture: Shutterstock.

The sight and sound of insects in a summer garden can instill fear in many gardeners, but for the knowledgeable gardener, insects are welcome.

Most insects, in fact, do more good than harm.

Pollinators, which include insects such as bees, butterflies, beetles, and flies and other animals like birds and marsupials, unwittingly move pollen from the male anther of one flower to the female stigma of another as they search for nectar and protein-rich pollen.

The result of this foraging by pollinators is the fertilisation of the flowers embryo, which produces fruits and seeds.

The most common pollinator of garden plants is the humble honeybee, and every effort should be made to make them welcome visitors to your patch.

How do you encourage bees into the garden?

Plant flowers, particularly those that are high in nectar or pollen such as lavender, grevilleas, eucalypts, bottle brush and daisy flowers.

Bees will also visit other plants in the garden while foraging, which means they will pollinate a multitude of plants resulting in higher yields.

To increase yields in the vegetable garden or fruit trees, plant flowering annuals close by to also attract pollinators.

Often small native bees, wasps and flies are ignored in the garden, but they too play an important role in the pollination of plants with small flowers, particularly many of our native species.

Providing habitat and nesting sites for natures little helpers will improve the health and diversity of any garden.

There are many reasons why plants won't set fruit, and it may simply be a result of the weather being too hot or too cold, or that there are no pollinators around.

This doesn't mean you need to go without produce. Hand pollination can be implemented to ensure a good yield.

Techniques may differ but this method requires the transfer of pollen from one flower to another to fertilise the flower.

A soft artist's brush is ideal for this task. Simply dust some pollen from a flower onto the paintbrush and then delicately dust the pollen onto the sticky stigma of another flower of the same type.

Hand pollination can be easily achieved on plants like tomatoes, eggplants, passionfruit, zucchini, pumpkin, and squash.

Better still, install a bee hotel in the garden to encourage pollinators to take up residence so they will do all the hard work for you.

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This story Not all insects are out to do harm in the garden first appeared on The Canberra Times.