A 'Berry' Good Bee for Pollinating Blackberries and Raspberries

| February 18, 2008

  • GreenBee

  • GreenBee

Bringing grains of pollen to waiting blackberry and red raspberry blossoms may be the special talent of a small, emerald-green bee called Osmia aglaia. That's according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) entomologist James H. Cane, who – in outdoor experiments in Oregon and Utah – has studied the pollination prowess of this 3/8-inch-long bee perhaps more extensively than any other scientist.

The hardworking bee, native to Oregon and California, may help with pollination chores, augmenting the work of America's best-known crop pollinator, the European honey bee Apis mellifera. In recent years, hived honey bees across the country have been hit hard by a mostly mysterious condition known as colony collapse disorder. That problem – and others caused by mites, beetles, diseases and Africanized honey bees – has added even more urgency to the need to find proficient pollinators among America's wild native bees, says Cane.

He's based at the ARS Pollinating Insect Biology, Management and Systematics Research Unit in Logan, Utah. In one series of experiments, Cane showed that O. aglaia bees work quickly, visiting just as many red raspberry flowers, and nearly as many blackberry blossoms, as do honey bees, in the same amount of time.

Both kinds of berries are mostly self-pollinating, meaning that they can form fruit without the need for insects to bring pollen to them. But better berries result if honey bees or O. aglaia visit red raspberry flowers, Cane found. The plump, well-formed fruits were 30 percent bigger than those on red raspberry plants not visited by either bee species.

Read more about this research in the February 2008 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

Kenwyn Maynes
12/29/2012 3:05:01 PM

Very interesting good to know. I have blackberry plants just for our family.now to find some bees to find O. Aglara some honey with my berries

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: February 16-17, 2019
Belton, TX

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on modern homesteading, animal husbandry, gardening, real food and more!


Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds