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Workers and queen bee on comb
Coffee plants are self-pollinating, and so insects such as bees have been thought to make little difference to the plant.

But new research published in this week's issue of Nature shows that bees can boost coffee yields by more than 50 per cent.

David Roubik of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama looked at coffee plants in Panama, which are visited predominantly by settled immigrant African honeybees.

He found that yields from the open pollination of coffee flowers were significantly larger than those on control branches that had been covered with fine-mesh material to exclude pollinators.

The new finding, he says, shows the importance of managing agricultural landscapes to include pollinators and other beneficial wild species.

© SciDev.Net 2002

Link to paper by David W. Roubik

Photo credit: Carl Dennis, Auburn University, Image 1203135. www.forestryimages.org.
13 June 2002.
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