Donor: BBSRC IPA with Biobest Ltd and Berry Gardens Growers Ltd.
Partners: NRI, NIAB EMR, Berry Gardens Growers Ltd., Biobest Ltd.
Project page on NRI website
This project is investigaing whether it is possible to prime managed bumblebees on strawberry farms to prefer foraging on the flowers of the crop, in order to pollinate them more effectively. The project is carrying out experiments to test the ability of caffeine to improve crop pollination in field and laboratory settings. Bumblebees are provided experimentally with caffeinated nectar alongside a synthetic strawberry flower's scent. Since caffeine improves bees' memory for the scents of flowers, we are evaluating whether these bees show increased foraging activity and attraction to strawberry flowers when they receive this priming treatment. We predict that if the preference of commercial bumblebees for strawberries is improved, the bees will visit more flowers, be more efficient at pollinating the crop and thus will enable the production of higher-quality, more valuable fruit.