Insect pollinators significantly contribute to the world’s biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services within agricultural systems. While it is clear that the yield and quality of three-quarters of global food crops benefit to varying degrees from animal pollination, little is known about exactly which pollinators are effective and how many visits are required for high quality fruit.

In a study led by an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award recipient, Dr Romina Rader from the University of New England, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of different pollinators that visit raspberry crops in Coffs Harbour, NSW. They evaluated the number of visits required by honeybees and stingless bees to result in high quality, commercial grade raspberry fruit, and found that an average of seven visits by a honeybee is required for high quality, symmetrical raspberries with few or no defects.

This work is being conducted in collaboration with commercial raspberry growers at Costa Group and the results of these studies are helping farmers to find the sweet spot where honeybees and wild pollinator visits can maximize raspberry fruit yield.

The researchers are now collating data to compare honeybee performance against native stingless bees both alone and when the two species are present together.

Image: Raspberries.
Image credit: Dr Romina Rader, University of New England.