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Strawberries may boost bees


A new study by scientists from the Universities of Göttingen, Sussex and Würzburg has examined the behaviour of bees in agricultural landscapes and found that honeybees prefer strawberry fields, even when they are flowering near rapeseed crops, and that wild bees constantly chose the strawberry field over oilseed rape.

The team hopes that this may open the door to ways to boost the decline in bee numbers and improve crop pollination.

The scientists then video recordings to decipher the bee dances which bees use to communicate the direction and distance of an attractive food source they are visiting. By comparing the videos to landscape maps, the team could work out which types of crop were preferred. They also examined which plants the bees use as pollen resources and determined the honeybee and wild bee density in the field.

“With the study, we were able to show that small honeybee colonies in particular can be suitable for pollinating strawberries outdoors. However, our results also show that wild bees in the landscape should be promoted by suitable management measures,” commented Head of the Functional Agrobiodiversity Department, Prof. Dr Catrin Westphal.

Caption: If strawberry fields are next to rapeseed, honeybees prefer the strawberry field

Photo credit: Göttingen University