While bees are not typically considered vital in the growing of strawberries, a new study from The Cal Poly Strawberry Center and Beeflow will explore the use of managed honeybees in strawberry pollination. The research funded by the California Strawberry Commission (CSC) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) hopes to harvest many results, including the reduction of food waste by up to one-third.
"We are interested to learn when and how often honeybees choose to visit California strawberries (vs. other available flowers) when beehives are intentionally placed into growers' fields," said Sarah Zukoff, Ph.D., The Cal Poly Strawberry Center. "We hope that this work will highlight the important role that bees can have in California strawberry production," said Angelita De la Luz, Ph.D., Beeflow. "The results will help growers produce more with less while fostering a food system that is more in harmony with nature."
Six organic strawberry growers in Oxnard, Santa Maria, and Watsonville will work with researchers in their fields beginning this September. The year-long study, a partnership between the CSC and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, could substantially decrease food waste, improve shelf life and reduce pesticide use. Combined, the layered benefits would exponentially improve farmer profits.
Beeflow is one of the first global companies to generate and apply scientific knowledge to bee behavior and pollination. The research – like this study with The Cal Poly Strawberry Center - aims to change the paradigm in pollination and improve crop yields. The results from the study are expected at the conclusion of the 2023 growing season.
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