Research from North Carolina State University shows that blueberries produce more seeds and larger berries if they are visited by more diverse bee species, allowing farmers to harvest significantly more pounds of fruit per acre.
“We wanted to understand the functional role of diversity,” says Dr. Hannah Burrack, an associate professor of entomology at NC State and co-author of a paper on the research. “And we found that there is a quantifiable benefit of having a lot of different types of bees pollinating a crop.”
The researchers looked at blueberries in North Carolina because it is an economically important and well understood crop that relies on insect pollination.
Within the blueberry fields, the researchers identified five distinct groups of bee species: honey bees, bumble bees, southeastern blueberry bees, carpenter bees and a functionally similar collection of species that they termed small native bees.
The researchers found that for each group above one, farmers saw an increase of $311 worth of yield per acre. For example, if two bee groups pollinated a field, the boost would be $311 per acre; for three bee groups, the boost would be $622 per acre, and so on.
“For North Carolina blueberries as a whole, we calculate the benefit of each group to be approximately $1.42 million worth of yield each year,” Burrack says.
“We think the benefit stems from differences in behavior between bee groups, in part depending on the weather,” explains Dr. David Tarpy, an associate professor of entomology at NC State and co-author of the paper. For example, southeastern blueberry bees work well regardless of inclement weather, whereas honey bees only perform at their best on calm, warm, sunny days.
“This can make a big difference, since blueberries bloom in March and April in North Carolina,” Burrack says. “That means the weather can swing from great to awful, as we saw this year.”
There is some research showing that having native, flowering plants near blueberry fields can increase native bee populations over time, but the researchers are now planning to see what role crop management can play in fostering bee diversity at crop sites.
“We’ve shown that there is a real financial benefit associated with biodiversity,” Burrack says. “The next step is to figure out how to foster that diversity in practical terms.”
The Latest on: Bee biodiversity
via Google News
The Latest on: Bee biodiversity
- Africa: Biodiversity Depends On Pollinators - A First Estimate of How Many Plants Rely On Animalson October 15, 2021 at 12:42 am
Analysis - The honeybee may be the best-known pollinator of plants, but there are thousands of pollinator species, including other bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies and even some birds and ...
- Be a Better Gardener: Bee-friendly lawnson October 14, 2021 at 8:28 am
What if, instead of being environmental offenders, lawns could be contributors to the well-being of our landscapes? That’s the question Dr. Eric Watkins has been addressing in his work at ...
- Burt's Bees SheKeeper Program Empowers Women in Shea-Producing Communities to Adopt Beekeepingon October 14, 2021 at 7:48 am
Burt's Bees announces SheKeeper, a $2-million, three-year partnership with USAID, Partnership for Natural Ingredients and Burt's Bees shea and beeswax suppliers, aimed at diversifying income of shea ...
- Biodiversity depends on pollinators: a first estimate of how many plants rely on animalson October 14, 2021 at 2:43 am
Half of all flowering plants mostly or completely rely on animal pollinators to make seeds. A decline in pollinators could cause major disruptions in natural ecosystems.
- U.S. Snubs Biodiversity Summiton October 14, 2021 at 2:38 am
The U.S. refuses to join the global conference in China on biodiversity due to decades of pharma lobbying. Yet habitat destruction could fuel future pandemics.
- Restoring Biodiversity Loss And Creating Sustainable Food Systems Will Require More Than China’s $230 Million Pledgeon October 13, 2021 at 2:38 pm
China’s commitment to establish a $230 billion fund to support biodiversity protection in developing countries falls short of what experts believe is required to revert losses and ensure sustainable ...
- Penn State Extension Master Gardeners support bee monitoring projecton October 13, 2021 at 2:00 am
The decline of bee populations across the United States has become headline news and is a cause of great concern. The Penn State Extension Master Gardeners are ...
- Tamalpias Bee Labon October 13, 2021 at 12:57 am
In collaboration with Dr. Gretchen LeBuhn and her lab at San Francisco State University, One Tam is continuing our efforts to monitor and understand more about Mt. Tamalpais’ wild bees ...
- Monoculture farming is another way modern-day agriculture is killing bees, scientists sayon October 12, 2021 at 7:05 pm
Monoculture farming is amplifying the prevalence of parasites in bees. Scientists have discovered another way modern-day farming techniques are killing off bee populations. While pesticides have long ...
- 11 Australian bee species closer to extinction after 'black summer' fireson October 5, 2021 at 4:59 pm
The number of threatened Australian native bee species is expected to increase by almost five times as a result of the 2019-2020 "black summer" blazes, according to the study.
via Bing News