Bees Help Strawberries Reach Their Potential

Nothing says summer like the first juicy sweet strawberry of the season.   Strawberries self pollinate and are not dependent on pollinators for fertilization. BUT early summer pollinators, most notably bees ensure the berry will attain perfection. The fruit of insect pollinated flowers are not only larger and have less deformities but also firmer, with a shelf life lasting an additional 12 hours. These few hours are significant to a fruit that has a four day shelf life.

Blue Orchard Bee on Strawberry Flower

Varieties of strawberries found throughout the world and people have eaten wild berries since ancient times while only cultivating them since the 1300’s. The modern day strawberry is the descended from a cross between two New World varieties: the Virginia strawberry (small but flavorful) and the Chilean strawberry (large as walnuts).

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Cultivated Strawberries

Strawberries are the only fruit with the seeds on the outside instead of on the inside. In fact the fruit is really really a collection of many tiny fruits, the result of 200 ovaries that need to be pollinated for the strawberry to reach its ultimate potential. This is achieved by the industrious work of many of our native spring bees including blue orchard bees, small carpenter bees, cuckoo bees, mining bees and sweat bees. Numerous other pollinators are also frequent visitors such as the bee fly.

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Small Carpenter Bee on Strawberry Flower
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Mining Bee on Strawberry Flower

 

 

 

 

 

In short, strawberries do not rely on the pollination services of pollinators but bees raise strawberries to a new level of perfection enabling each berry to attain its ultimate potential, to transcend from good to GREAT!

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A History of the Strawberry. Grubbing, Vern. The University of Vermont, A publication of UVM Extensions Vermont Vegetable and Berry Program. June 2012. https://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/factsheets/strawberryhistory.html.

A Better Berry, Thanks to Bees. Stokstad, Erik. Science. December 3rd, 2013. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/12/better-berry-thanks-bees.

Cornell University study of native pollinators on the production of commercial strawberries. https://entomology.cals.cornell.edu/extension/wild-pollinators

The Pollinator Perfect Berry
The Pollinator Perfect Berry

 

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