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    Strawberries

Below is an extract from a pollination research paper prepared by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC).  To download the document, simply click on the image on the left of this screen.

Strawberry flowers are hermaphroditic (having both male and female reproductive organs) and self-fertile and 80% of fruit production is due to abiotic factors such as gravity and wind; however, pollinating insects play an essential role in obtaining maximum fruit set as well as reducing deformities (Chagnon et al. 1989).  Many different types of insects visit strawberry flowers, including flies, beetles, thrips, butterflies and various bees; however, only the bees, especially the honey bee (Apis mellifera L) have been shown to be the most efficient in transferring pollen effectively without injuring flower parts.  

There have been a great number of studies over a long period of time showing the benefits of introducing honey bees to the fruit set and quality of strawberries.  Several authors have shown the benefits of honey bee foraging behaviour to strawberry production in greenhouses including Petkov (1963, as cited in McGregor 1976) who found that when flowers were isolated from bees only 31 to 39% developed fruit, as compared with fruit developing on 55 to 60% of flowers open to bees.  Furthermore, the isolated flowers developed 60 to 65% culls compared to 14 to 17% culls from flowers visited by bees and the average weight of fruit developed from flowers visited by bees was approximately two-thirds greater than isolated flowers (McGregor 1976).

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