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Killer bees boost coffee yields

5:23pm, July 1, 2002

Coffee plants are self-pollinating, so they fruit and set seed without the help of pollinating insects. What do you get when bees nevertheless come by the coffee grove and do their thing? Bonanza yields, according to a new report.

David W. Roubik of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Balboa, Panama, knew that coffee blooms get a lot of traffic from pollinating insects. Since the early 1980s, most of the winged visitors there have been Africanized honeybees. To probe their impact on coffee growing, Roubik monitored berry yields from blooms pollinated with and without the help of bees. Each fruit has two seeds, better known as coffee beans.

Roubik put fine-mesh bags over some branches of flowering blooms on 2-year-old, shade-grown Coffea arabica shrubs. Other branches remained ava

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