Bees are best when it comes to strawberry production

A team of German and Swedish researchers have discovered that the quality, quantity and commercial value of strawberries are better in bee pollinated plants than in wind or self pollinated crops.

what is pollination?

Nine commercial strawberry varieties were used in the experiment which compared pollination by bees with other methods of fertilising the flowers. 

Berries from the bee pollinated plants were found to be heavier, redder, had fewer malformations and were graded more highly.  Not only did they look better, they had improved handling and shelf life, which, of course, is important for supermarkets and retailers.

How do bees make pollination better?

It seems as though the process of plant reproduction is very complicated.  The plant produces all sorts of different chemicals to make things happen at the right time - from pheronomes to attract pollinating insects to the flowers to growth hormones to make the fruit swell.  According to the researchers on this team, bees have a positive effect on the chemical processes and this effect occurs in many pollinated crops.  

That means that the findings of this experiment should also apply to other insect pollinated crops such as raspberries, apples, pears, tomatoes and potatoes.

The researchers said that bee pollination "appears to be economically more important than previously recognised and needs better support"

How can we support bees?

There are a number of different ways that each and every one of us can do to support bees.  

  • If you have a garden, try to make sure you have bee-friendly flowers in bloom for as many months of the year as possible.
  • If you have a garden, but don't want a lot of work, try growing a wildflower meadow that will look good and support a whole plethora of bees, butterflies, hoverflies and other beneficial insects
  • If you have a garden shed or a flat roof extension - install a living green roof that will flower during the summer months
  • If you're not a gardener, support local beekeepers by buying local honey
  • Sign up and become a friend to the honeybee
  • watch our video to learn more about planting for pollinators