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We do love an interesting coffee story, and this one has all the ingredients of an unusual tale. Bumblebees are vital for helping to pollinating Britain’s crops, but in recent years they’ve been declining in number. Climate change is part of the problem, and the increased use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers is having an impact too. With wild pollinators on the decrease, fruit growers are turning to ‘managed pollinators’ to help them produce food crops. These can include ‘commercial bumblebee’ colonies, which have been raised for the specific purpose of helping pollinate crops. The farmer can simply purchase a colony and position it near his crops.
However, these commercial bees aren’t as efficient as wild bees so researchers are undertaking experiments to see if they can be ‘trained’ to recognise specific flower scents. These experiments include spraying robotic flowers with a specific scent and seeing if they recognise it. As part of the project, bees were offered caffeine which appeared to make them more motivated and efficient at their job. The caffeine was used to help reward the bee when it found the correct flower sent – and the results were positive. Bees raised on the special mixture were much more likely to head to the correct flowers, and not get distracted on the way.
The study may have significant implications for UK agriculture, although researchers did add that a full scale trial needs to take place to confirm the findings.
We’re delighted to hear that it looks like Britain’s bumblebees may love caffeine as much as we do! If you’re a coffee lover too, then take a look at our main website to discover our range of top quality coffee beans, coffee accessories and more. All are available to buy online at competitive wholesale prices, perfect for use in your commercial coffee business or just at home.