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…
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.
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.
The honeybees move swiftly between the flowers and visit in large numbers.
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.
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..
It is the actions of all these bees who make the delicious raspberries happen!
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!