While it is well known that pollinating strawberry crops using bumblebees leads to yield and quality improvements, research has shown it may also have a significant impact on the shelf life of the fruit.
“Bumblebees use a unique pollination method - ‘buzz’ pollination,” explains Biobest’s IPM and Pollination Specialist - Dr Liam Harvey. “Vibrating their wing muscles at a frequency of 200-400Hz, the buzzing causes anthers to vibrate - releasing large amounts of pollen on to the bumblebee.”
“Bumblebees are effective pollinators of strawberry flowers and their visits lead to increased fruit set – more strawberries per plant and a higher yield for growers.”
“These highly efficient pollinators can also improve the overall quality of the strawberries. When the flowers are properly pollinated, the resulting fruits are larger, more uniform in shape and benefit from improved texture and flavour.”
Improved shelf life
Alongside quality and yield improvements, Dr Harvey says pollination by bumblebees can have a significant impact on the shelf life of the fruits.
“The shelf life of strawberries is primarily determined by factors such as the fruits’ maturity, handling and storage practices and environmental conditions,” he says. “However, research has shown that bumblebee pollination may lead to improved shelf life - through increased redness, a reduced sugar to acid ratios and improvements in firmness.”