The birds and the bees may be impacting your coffee

Posted: 5 April 2022 | | No comments yet

One of the world’s most-loved beverages wouldn’t be as good without the help of certain animals – find out why birds and bees are so crucial to your morning cup of coffee.

Coffee Bee

A new study has found that coffee beans are bigger and more plentiful when birds and bees team up to protect and pollinate coffee plants.  

Without the birds and the bees, some travelling thousands of miles, coffee farmers would see a 25 percent drop in crop yields, according to the study by the University of Vermont.  

“Until now, researchers have typically calculated the benefits of nature separately, and then simply added them up,” said lead author Alejandra Martínez-Salinas. “But nature is an interacting system, full of important synergies and trade-offs. We show the ecological and economic importance of these interactions, in one of the first experiments at realistic scales in actual farms.”  

For the experiment, researchers from Latin America and the US excluded birds and bees from coffee plants across 30 farms with a combination of large nets and small lace bags. They tested for four key scenarios: bird activity alone (pest control), bee activity alone (pollination), no bird and bee activity at all, and finally, a natural environment, where bees and birds were free to pollinate and eat insects like the coffee berry borer; a beetle that is known as one of the most damaging pests affecting coffee production worldwide. 

The results of the experiment showed that without birds and bees, the average yield declined nearly 25 percent, valued at roughly $1,066 per hectare. 

One of the most surprising aspects of the study, according to the researchers, was that many birds providing pest control to coffee plants in Costa Rica had migrated thousands of miles from Canada and the US.

The team is also studying how changing farm landscapes impact birds’ and bees’ ability to deliver benefits to coffee production.

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