Wild bees boost fruit

Our wild bees could help give a boost to the blackcurrant harvest

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Studies have been carried out to examine the relationship between bees and the blackcurrant harvest. It has been found that in the cages observed there were a large amount of wild bees and yet they found no honeybees.

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Scientists at East Malling Research did trials on two different species of blackcurrant to closely monitor the success rate of native pollinators. As the research, funded by Defra, GlaxoSmithKline and other industrial partners, continued on the nine surveyed plantations, 13 different species of wild bee were recorded foraging for pollen and nectar on the blackcurrants, yet there were no honeybees noted.

This research suggests that work needs to be done to improve local habitats for wild bees if a greater amount of blackcurrants, and other fruits, are to be harvested. It shows that the wild bees are essential to maximise not just the quantity, but also the quality of crops. With this in mind, the high yielding wild bees and bumblebees are gaining higher quality habitats in response to their success rates.

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‘Good management of local biodiversity and the wider environment plus considered use of pesticides could make all the difference to pollination levels and the quality of harvests,’ says entomologist and team leader, Dr Michelle Fountain.