Pollination by bees beats wind and self pollination for quality and quantity of strawberries

Pollination by bees improves the quality, quantity and market value of strawberries compared with wind and self pollination, a team of German and Swedish researchers has found.

The conclusions were based on a field experiment in which nine commercial strawberry varieties were subjected to self, wind and bee pollination using exclusion treatments.

The bee-pollinated berries were also found to be heavier, redder, had fewer malformations and were graded more highly. Being firmer, they had improved handling and shelf life, with a reduction in losses of 11 per cent compared with non-bee-pollinated fruit.

The researchers wrote: "The quality and yield effects are driven by the pollination-mediated production of hormonal growth regulators." As this effect occurs in many pollinated crops, the findings "should be transferable to a wide range of crops".

They added that bee pollination "appears to be economically more important than previously recognised and needs better support".


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