A PhD study by Dr Jessica Knapp at the University of Exeter has discovered the impact of pollination to courgettes. Dr Knapp found that courgette crop yields were 39% higher when honeybees, buff-tailed bumblebees and other pollinators were present. This boost in yield would have added an estimated £3.6 million to the 2017 courgette crop.

 

Not only did it find the value of pollination, but that this increase is specific to natural pollinators. Human pollination made no real difference and added unnecessary labour cost.

 

This boost in yield would have added an estimated £3.6 million to the 2017 courgette crop.

 

These findings are predicted to also translate to other crops within the cucurbit family, including watermelons and cucumbers.

 

Dr Knapp’s study also discovered that more bumblebees were found in fields containing many wildflowers. Thus, wildflower field margins enhanced pollination services and contributes to the conservation of the bees. While courgette nectar improved population, this only aided the bees in cohesion with other pollen services to fulfil the bees’ nutritional needs. The bees did not take courgette pollen back to their colonies.

 

This study hopes to be valuable in helping growers plant accordingly to boost both crop yield and bee population levels.

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