A new study has investigated the role that our native bees can play in increasing the yield and quality of vegetable seeds such as carrots and leek. The Development of native bees as pollinators of vegetable seed crops study undertaken by the University of Adelaide is one of a large range of studies to be published on the vegetable industry’s R&D database this month. AUSVEG spokesperson Andrew White said the study was one of around several hundred that took place every year to ensure Australians were eating vegetables that had been produced using the most cost-effective, efficient, and innovative methods of food production.
‘As part of the study, over two years 36 species of native bees were caught, and 26 species were observed to try to identify possible native-bee pollinators of leek and carrot in hybrid seed production,’ Mr White said.
‘Promoting the positive benefits of native bees when there is suboptimal pollination from honeybees may be significant, and this study provided evidence of some good results when crops were exposed to native bee populations in addition to honeybees.
‘The study also found that growers can do a range of things to improve native bee populations at their properties such as minimising tillage to protect nests, planting windbreaks made up of native flowering plants and protecting flowering plants and nest sites.
‘Research into the benefits of native bees is not only of benefit to the seed industry, but to the broader horticulture sector.
‘Developing better-quality and -yielding seeds may have significant benefits for the food industry and vegetable growers in the future.
‘Compared to enclosed pollination with honeybees the study found that hybrid seed production of carrot and leek in particular was enhanced when grown outside.’
The AUSVEG national R&D database can be accessed at www.ausveg.com.au.