Bees help make raspberries in Kenya

Dear All

A few days ago I visited a friend of mine who runs a farm on the outskirts of Nairobi. Su Kahumbu is an organic farmer who does amazing work with farmers across Kenya promoting sustainable agriculture and innovation…

Farmer Su Kahumbu with her raspberry bushes

One of the crops growing at her beautiful model farm are raspberries.


These delicious fruits are one of my favourite desserts… And of course in order to have raspberries on the table you need to have raspberry bushes. The raspberry bushes have flowers that need to be pollinated in order for the beautiful and yummy fruit to develop…

Raspberry flowers are composite flowers – which means that they are actually made up of many tiny individual flowers all joined together.

Freshly opened raspberry flower

In order for a flower to set fruit, it needs to be pollinated. On Su’s farm these free services are provided to her raspberry bushes by several different kinds of bees. One of the most common pollinators is the honeybee.

A honeybee grapples with a raspberry flower

The honeybees move swiftly between the flowers and visit in large numbers.

Honeybees drink nectar and gather pollen at the flowers

As these are composite flowers, every single tiny individual flower, called a floret, needs to be visited and gently dusted with pollen by a bee. Otherwise there will be no fruits produced.

Recently pollinated young raspberry fruits

Honeybees are not the only bees visiting the flowers. There are also some wild solitary bees. These are even more efficient in some cases as they spend longer times on the flowers and manipulate them more thoroughly. The quality, shape, flavour and size of the raspberry fruit are all directly tied to the efficiency of the pollinators. Too little pollen and the fruit is pale, small and not very sweet. It takes many visits by many bees to make a fruit round and sweet..

Solitary wild bee on raspberry flower

It is the actions of all these bees who make the delicious raspberries happen!

Yummy raspberry thanks to the hard-working bees!

Please think of the bees that put the food on your table next time you enjoy some raspberries for breakfast or dessert. More from the wonderful world of insects soon!

My name is Dino J. Martins, I am a Kenyan entomologist and I love insects. The Kiswahili word for insect is dudu and if you didn't know already, insects rule the world! Thanks to the amazing efforts of the 'little things that run the world' I was humbled to be selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. This blog is a virtual dudu safari through the fascinating world of bugs. Enjoy, leave a comment and send any questions or comments to me through: insects.eanhs@gmail.com
  • […] Bees help make raspberries in KenyaNational GeographicThese delicious fruits are one of my favourite desserts… And of course in order to have raspberries on the table you need to have raspberry bushes. The raspberry bushes have flowers that need to be pollinated in order for the beautiful and yummy fruit …and more » […]

  • pauline

    No sunny day can be thoroughly enjoyed without the buzzing of the bees in the background. Dont swat bees love bees. They are working hard to make life on planet earth tasty and good. Do I ever remember tasty rasberries.

  • […] bees help make raspberries in Kenya, rare photos of the smalltooth sandtiger shark, strange lichens in Colorado, largest […]

  • Libby Morgan

    very interesting article and bee-yooteeful photos. we love raspberries and were grateful to the bees for all the pollinating they do to help the farmers’ fruit crops grow.

  • james emojorho

    I saw a large collection of what looks like a female honey bee in a basket form in my compound. I am very scared that the bees may sting or bite my children. Although, I have about Ten different fruits or plants in my compound and several types of flower also. Please advise me on what to do because I intend to burn the bees.

  • imelda

    Hey Dino? i am an avid cultivator of fruit trees and am looking for the how of raising raspberries and gooseberries, including finding appropriate seed or cuttings. would u be so kind as to help me out? i see u move around a lot and i believe u are the person to plug this gap. i look forward to your kind assistance.



  • Nyambura

    Good fruit.
    How can I get the raspberry cuttings?

  • Fruit Club

    That is just beautiful, I could sit back with some fruit baskets and enjoy the scenery

  • Nasi

    Dear Mike & daniel,
    I am in Nairobi and would love to see your farms and borrow your ideas specially growing Raspberries and other fruits.

  • Daniel Muturi

    I lover Raspberries & Black berry fruits.

    Anybody knows where I can get cuttings in Nairobi?

  • Dorcas

    I would like to grow the raspberries,currant…how can I get splits or seedlings

  • steven mwanzia

    Good job; I have raspberry plants each is 600ksh, if interested call me 0775114935 or email stevenmwanzia24@gmail.com

  • steven mwanzia

    If interested call because it had remained twenty raspberry plants ,deadline date 18/03/2014

  • wendy

    I love Florida more than what I can say. I am crazy orange fans!

  • stephen

    I have been looking for red raspberry cuttings to plant for a long time unsuccessfully. would appreciate any information on where I CAN GET THEM.

  • john dodd

    Am aid worker and wanting to visit chat with Su Kahumbu about setting up som joint operations with farmers to grow blackberries, strawberries as project

  • john dodd

    would like assistance in setting up for growing blackberries, strawberries for part of aid project .
    John; johnsrun71@yahoo.com ph. 0707449316

  • Kathleen Raysik

    We planted raspberries (sticks with roots) and two years later, they had produced so much; we ate them, gave them away, froze and canned them. We could hear bees busy and buzzing around the blossoms but they never minded our attention.

  • […] Bees  make raspberries in Kenya […]

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

Social Media